Samford University

Guidelines for Parents

One of the many changes you will notice as your student goes to college is your changing role in dealing with their disability. The Federal Family Education Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) states that all rights regarding information and confidentiality revert to the student when they reach the age of eighteen. Institutions of higher education are therefore limited in what they can discuss with parents without a release signed by the student.

One of the benefits of this situation is that it encourages students to begin to advocate for themselves in the areas affected by their disability. The school contact person will need to work with the student to receive documentation, determine appropriate accommodations, and notify professors. The student is thus encouraged to accept responsibility as well as become an active part of their academic decisions.

Often students who have received accommodations in high school feel they would like to make college a ‘fresh start’; their chance to begin without the ‘label’ they feel they have carried in the past. It might not be the best time to attempt a new curriculum without the support they have had in the past. It also might be a good time to consider taking advantage of help for which they have been eligible, but have not previously felt a need.  Encourage your student to meet with the staff in DR and submit documentation appropriate for post-secondary education.  It is much easier to implement accommodations quickly if the documentation is already in place. All written information will be kept in a confidential file and destroyed after 5 years.