Business Office

Student Privacy Rights (FERPA)

As our society continues to use the internet and other means to extend the sharing of information worldwide, it is important to have safeguards in place to ensure that the privacy of personal information is protected. The Federal government has enacted a number of laws intended to safeguard the privacy of personal information, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Under the provisions of FERPA, students have the right to inspect their educational records and submit requests to correct errors and inaccuracies. The FERPA provisions relating to the privacy of these educational records have some implications that students and their families need to be aware of.

Under the provisions of FERPA, "directory" information is considered to be public information; and the University has the right to release this information upon request to any interested party. Directory information includes, but is not necessarily limited to: the student's name, address, phone number(s), e-mail address(es), program of study and enrollment status. Directory information does not include the Social Security Number. Students who wish to restrict the availability of directory information may do so by contacting the University Registrar's Office. Please note that restrictions on directory information do not apply to agents with whom the University has contracted to perform services on its behalf. For example, the University has the right to provide directory information to a collection agency it has employed to collect delinquent student account balances.

Other than directory information, FERPA restricts the release of educational records, including all financial records, to anyone other than the student without the student's explicit written permission. While designed to protect the student, the restrictions can also prove to be inconvenient. For example, if a parent telephones the Business Office to inquire about the balance on the student account, the Business Office is not permitted to tell the parent how much the student owes. A parent preparing a tax return is not able to obtain a copy of the student's 1098-T. Business Office personnel are not permitted to discuss the details of the student's account with anyone other than the student. The restrictions not only apply to the parents, they apply to the spouse as well. It can be frustrating at times for all parties concerned, but FERPA restrictions are inflexible and must be observed.

While our staff will always be happy to explain general university policies regarding student accounts, in order to provide specific information about your student's account balance we will need his/her consent as required by FERPA. For the Washburn University Business Office, the student's consent to release financial information can be accomplished in two ways: 

     1)  When the student registers the parent as an authorized user in WU-View (provides a Business Office release only) or

     2)  When the students signs a paper FERPA release form and submits it to the Student One Stop (can include releases for multiple records, including the students accounting records).   A legally executed Power of Attorney granting the holder the right to discuss financial information is also acceptable as FERPA permission, once the Business Office representative has verified that the University is in possession of a copy of the document.

If a student only signs a paper FERPA release but does not set up an authorized user in WU-View, the parent will not receive copies of emails or be able to log into the online payment system to make payments. If a student only sets up an authorized user in WU-View but does not sign a paper FERPA release, only the Business Office can visit with the authorized user because the WU-View release pertains only to student accounts.

The parent must have a valid e-mail address in order to be set up as an authorized user in the online payment system. If the student is uncertain how to set up a parent as an authorized user in WU-View, we will be happy to walk him/her through the process. In addition, authorized users in WU-View receive e-mail notifications when e-bills are generated or when payments are due and also can set up payment plans and/or make payments on behalf of the student.

Although it is a poor idea for security reasons, students will sometimes give their personal login information to a parent so that s/he can view student information. Please know that this does not make the parent an authorized user. Likewise, a student may give a parent verbal permission to speak with our office, but this also does not make the parent an authorized user.