Parents Right To Education Records Of Adult Or College Student


Adult student records rights

Last Updated on September 14, 2021 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

Parents hold the rights to access student records most of their child’s education. But what happens when a student turns 18 or enters college? Do parents lose all rights to access the student’s education and school records? Maybe not.

Records Rights Until 18 or Entering College

Up until a student turns eighteen or enters a postsecondary education, their parent holds all rights to access student records under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

College records access by parents may be allowed
Parents of college students may still be able to access their postsecondary records

FERPA Records Rights Don’t Apply to Some Schools

FERPA only applies to schools that receive federal funds, which likely means a private elementary, middle or high school (if they take no federal money via loans or otherwise) may not be subject to FERPA. Private schools still may be subject to other records laws, such as Education Code 49069,7 granting parent access.

Minor Student in College

Once a student enters a university, the right to access and control their educational records related to that college moves to them. This applies even if a student is a minor.

If a student is attending both college and a regular public high school, this can be tricky for parents.

Basically, the minor student holds the rights to their records at the university, but the parents will continue to have rights at the public high school.

There are exceptions, however, even after they turn 18 or after a student is in a college.

Exception #1: Student On Parents Tax Records as Dependent

If a postsecondary student, even an adult student, is on their parents tax records as a “dependent,” parents may still access the student’s records.

Postsecondary records access by parents
Students can allow access to their parents via written release.

Exception #2: College Student Commits Drug or Alcohol Offense

If a university student under 21 commits an alcohol or controlled substances (aka drugs) offense, their parents may receive records without the student’s consent.

Exception #3: Student Consents to Release

If a parent does not fit within the above categories, a postsecondary student may still consent to their access. In that case, a parent may obtain or review whatever college records the student agrees to.

Such a waiver/release must be in writing.


Postsecondary student and parent rights lawyer Michelle Ball practices throughout California. As a college education attorney in Sacramento, she may assist throughout California in towns like Davis, Stockton, Tahoe, San Francisco, Elk Grove, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Riverside, Fresno, Galt, Roseville, and others.