As your son/daughter begin a new journey to pursue post-secondary education, they could be experiencing a wide range of emotions from excitement to nervousness. Similarly, as the parent or guardian who has advocated for your son/daughter their entire life, you could also be experiencing a myriad of emotions as they transition from adolescent to adulthood.
The information in this section is designed to answer frequently asked questions from parents, as well as provide important information and strategies to assist you in supporting your son/daughter in their transition to adulthood.
Do I have the same rights as a parent of an adult in college that I did as a minor in high school?
When a student turns 18 years old or attends a school beyond the high school level, all rights afforded to you as a parent under FERPA transfer to the student ("eligible student").
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 C.F.R. Part 99).
This law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
My son/daughter is a minor (under 18) and is just taking one class at Citrus College. Does FERPA still apply? What are my rights as a parent in this scenario?
When a student attends an institution of postsecondary education
at any age (thereby becoming an "eligible student") the rights under FERPA transfer from the parent to the student.
What does FERPA mean in terms of my communication with DSPS on behalf of my son/daughter?
At the college level, this means that students should be taking the DSPS process into their own hands. This means that students, not parents, need to schedule, cancel, or reschedule their own appointments. If there are questions that come up for you and your son/daughter is in the process of requesting accommodations through DSPS, please encourage your son/daughter to be the one to ask them of DSPS staff.
The role of advocacy shifts from parent to student in higher education. Coach your son/daughter to build self-advocacy skills which will greatly benefit them in the long run. For example, teach your son/daughter how to make a phone call to schedule an appointment before they attempt to make the call. Students may feel nervous doing this for the first few times, so writing out a script that they could read aloud along with being beside them as they make the call are effective strategies to couch and support your son/daughter in building self-advocacy skills. Equally effective is teaching them how to compose an email message to schedule an appointment where the message is coming from their own email address.
If a parent has legal conservatorship, please submit a copy to the DSPS office at
firstname.lastname@example.org for review, as the parental right may differ in a situation where the student is conserved. Please note, should conservatorship exist, the student must still take an active role in his or her education.
I have advocated for my son/daughter for many years, and I am used to being able to talk with disability professionals about their disability. How does this change in college?
Part of the mission of DSPS is to empower students with disabilities to be their own self-advocate, a critical skill to possess for healthy functioning as an adult. The ability for individuals with disabilities to express their needs to others fosters independence and promotes self-growth. Therefore, it is very important that we allow the student to be an active participant in the process of discussing accommodations and the nature of their disability with DSPS staff. We want to hear from students to understand their perspective, as it is very helpful in determining appropriate accommodations. DSPS staff are very aware that for many students this is a new skill to learn, but the goal is to give students the opportunity to develop this skill through their interactions with us and with their college instructors.
While you, as the parent, can of course be present for a meeting (if your son/daughter provides permission), we would encourage you to allow for this process to take place and help your son/daughter to speak on behalf of their own needs. As the parent or guardian, we recommend that you to coach your son/daughter to prepare for their DSPS intake appointment by teaching them how to articulate the nature of their disability, and have a conversation with them where they share with you how it affects them in school. Role modeling or role playing this conversation and practicing prior to their appointment is helping them learn how to independently express their needs to others. Help them identify questions to ask to the counselor. If they struggle with working memory, have them write or type out their questions so that they can refer back to the notes when they meet with the counselor.
Due to disability related functional limitations, students may also convey their need for accommodations through written expression, typing, or using assistive technology. Sign language interpreters are also available for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Are the accommodations available in college the same as those that were available in high school?
Accommodations available to students in college differ greatly from high school modifications and accommodations. College accommodations cannot fundamentally alter or lower academic standards of the curriculum, nor lower the approved learning outcomes or objectives in the course outline of record. The purpose of college accommodations is to ensure equitable access and are determined on an individualized basis.
My son/daughter is a minor and is part of Dual Enrollment or CCAP. Will DSPS use their IEP because the student is still enrolled in high school?
Students under the age of 18 often rely on their parents to speak on their behalf. It is important for students and their family to be aware that once the student decides to take a college course through Dual Enrollment or CCAP, they fall under college policies and procedures, including student privacy guidelines under FERPA. Please help your son/daughter to build self-advocacy skills by having them schedule their own appointments and allowing them the opportunity to discuss their need for accommodations when they meet with a DSPS counselor.
High school students taking college level courses through Dual Enrollment or CCAP may request accommodations by registering with disabled student programs and services (DSPS). Information on how to register can be found
on this DSPS website on the Getting Started tab.
Please note, there are differences between high school and college level course work, and not all accommodations that are available at the high school may be allowed in college courses. Students are accommodated to the maximum reasonable extent. Each situation and accommodation request is evaluated on an individual case-by-case basis. To earn college credit, students with disabilities must meet the same academic standards and performance expectations like all other students.
Accommodations for college courses are designed to ensure equal access. They do not fundamentally modify or lower academic or performance standards.
I am used to communicating with my son/daughter's teachers. Does FERPA allow for this?
Teachers will interface with students and will not communicate with parents on behalf of the student. Students who have questions about their academic progress should contact their instructor via email, after class or during office hours. Additionally, it is the student's responsibility to present their Academic Accommodation Plan (AAP), outlining approved accommodations, to their instructors. This process is reviewed extensively with students during a DSPScounseling meeting after accommodations have been determined.
Is there any information that I, as a parent, can obtain regarding my son/daughter while in college?
A student may grant the college permission to release some information about their education records to a third party by submitting
a completed Release of Information form. This form is applicable for student records in admissions and records, financial aid, and/or fiscal services. The
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) statement provides further details.