At the postsecondary level, parents or guardians have no inherent rights to access or inspect their son's or daughter's education records. This right is limited solely to the student. At the University of Richmond, records may be released to parents or guardians only if they have been given a written release by the student or in compliance with a subpoena.

Crisis Situations and Emergencies

There is a caveat in the law: If non-directory information is needed to resolve a crisis or emergency situation, an education institution may release that information if the institution determines that the information is "necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." A number of factors are considered in making this assessment including the severity of the threat to the health or safety of those involved and the need for the information.

Instances Involving the Use of Controlled Substances/Alcohol

In 1998, Congress passed a law permitting colleges and universities to disclose to a student's parents or guardians violations of a school's disciplinary code involving the use or possession of controlled substances or alcohol. If such situations occur, the appropriate office will contact the parents.

Study Abroad Situations

When students opt to study abroad for a semester or year, they are given the opportunity to allow their parents or guardians access to their records, as well as to make decisions regarding their records and registration for that period of time. This has proved helpful given the sometimes limited communication access students may have in some locations.