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Communication: Student Records & Privacy

Parents are important members of the Calvin family and essential partners towards maximizing the lifelong benefits of Christian higher education. They have faithfully nurtured their sons and daughters and are highly invested in the process of preparing them for a lifetime of Christian service and fulfillment. Most parents desire to continue providing that support and involvement during the college years.

The college years are an exciting time of personal development and change, and this is especially evident in the parent/student relationship. Calvin's philosophy of student development is based on the belief that college students are most successful in their transition towards becoming responsible Christian adults when the college interacts with them accordingly.

Towards this end, Calvin’s operational policy regarding college/student communication is that the primary communication link from the college is through the student. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also provides guidelines that support and direct this policy. Read more »

The college communicates directly with your student regarding a variety of matters, including (but not limited to):

Even though this communication policy is the operative principle, parents may still gain access to student record information. FERPA states that parents may gain permission to access student records if the student is currently claimed as a dependent for income tax purposes. However, out of common courtesy and respect for the student and his/her rights, parents should still request access to those records and statements through the student who would then authorize that the requested information be released to the parents.

Financial Information

Calvin issues two types of financial statements:

Tuition, Room & Board Statement.
These payments are due three times per semester. Charges include tuition, room, board, course-related fees, and off-campus semester program expenses. A notification that the statement can viewed in their portal account is e-mailed to the student approximately four weeks prior to the due date. (See the financial services website for exact due dates.)

Miscellaneous Charges Statement. These statements include campus store purchases, dining services charges from the Fish House or Johnny’s, telephone service fees, campus safety tickets, the career services fee, the KnightCare health insurance charge and other non-tuition-related fees. A notification that the statement can viewed in the portal is e-mailed to the student around the 15th of each month. Payment is due by the 1st of each month.

E-Statements. Calvin's paperless e-statement billing system automatically sends an electronic copy of all financial statements to the email addresses that a student has subscribed for this service. Parents may also receive e-statements but this must be initiated and authorized by the student in their portal account (Services>Student Accounts and Finances>E-Statement and subscription). The student may authorize that Calvin send the e-statement to up to five separate e-mail accounts. Being subscribed for the e-Statement delivery serves as our authorization to discuss what appears on the statement with the subscriber.

E-statements are sent electronically as a PDF file attachment. Parents and students will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed in order to read the E-Statement. This software can be downloaded without charge from the Adobe Web site.

Payments made via Calvin's Electronic Check Payment Center are applied the next business day. Paper checks should be mailed 5 days prior to the due dates to insure timely payment. Calvin does not accept credit card payments for Tuition, Room & Board Statements or for Statement of Miscellaneous Charges.

Academic Progress (Grades)

Academic progress reports (grades) are available to students online (via their portal account, posted by the academic services office) after each semester and after Interim. For first-year students only, mid-term grades are also posted in mid-October. This mid-term grade report can serve as a "wake-up call" for new college students, many of whom discover that higher education is much more challenging than high school academics. Calvin notifies parents that mid-term grades have been posted and encourages parents to check in with their student to inquire how they are doing. While parents do not have access to a student's electronic accounts, a student can use her portal account to e-mail an unofficial grade report to her parents (or others) after the grades have been posted to her transcript.

Parents may encourage their student(s) to send them a grade report from this link: www.calvin.edu/go/emailmygrades/.

All communication regarding academic probation and academic dismissal is directed to the student.

Enrollment Verification Requests

The academic services office is equipped to provide letters which verify a student's current enrollment at Calvin College. See parent and student options for requesting this letter.

Students with Disabilities

The Office of Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) coordinates services to students who have documented disabilities. This includes students with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, chronic health disabilities, hard of hearing/deaf, low vision/blind, mobility impairments, acquired brain injuries, and psychiatric disabilities. When a student discloses a diagnosed disability to the college, coordinators in the SSWD Office determine and provide appropriate services, accommodations, advocacy and support to the student. All student documentation is confidential, and information regarding students with disabilities who receive the services cannot be shared with parents or others without a consent form signed by the student. These forms are available from the SSWD Office, located in Hiemenga Hall.

Health Services

Calvin provides outpatient medical services for students. By law and professional obligation, Calvin Heath Services protects patients' rights to privacy and confidentiality. Except in serious emergencies, students are responsible for notifying family members or guardians about any personal health problems. No information pertaining to the student's health can be released to anyone, including family members, faculty, or staff, without the student's written consent. In the rare instance when law or policy requires divulging of information, the student is informed of such.

Broene Counseling Center

Most parents understand the importance of ensuring confidentiality for anyone seeking counseling services. Indeed, providing a safe, confidential setting is the real cornerstone of any counseling process. As legal adults, Calvin students are afforded that critical benefit also. However, our experience is that the sizeable majority of students who seek counseling services actually desire that their parents know what is going on in their lives, including how they are feeling emotionally and how they are experiencing the counseling process. Many students choose to keep their parents informed by themselves. Most students have no problem with a parent talking with his/her counselor. A signed consent form allows that kind of communication to occur. If a counselor feels it is important for him/her to speak with a parent, our experience is that the vast majority of students understand and see how this would help and are supportive of it. In rare situations where a student’s safety or the safety of others may be jeopardized, parents may be notified without the consent of the student. Be assured that Broene Counseling Center staff understands the role of parents during this sometimes difficult time of transition for their young adult children.

Discipline

If a student receives a minor disciplinary sanction (e.g., a warning, a fine) for some violation of the student conduct code or residence hall regulations (e.g. noise violation, minor "open house" violations, smoking issues, etc.) the college will not normally contact parents. If parents learn about such an incident, it will occur at the discretion and initiative of their son or daughter rather than from a phone call or letter from Calvin officials.

There are some exceptions. Any alcohol violation or case involving illegal drugs will result in parental notification. In addition, other serious violations of the conduct code that results in disciplinary probation or suspension (e.g. sexual misconduct, repeat offenses, academic dishonesty) will also result in parental notification. In some cases, a letter may be sent to parents by the college. Other times the preferred method is to give the student a short but reasonable time frame during which to make the first contact with parents. Parents are then asked by a son or daughter to contact the college for further discussion with the resident director or dean. Other exceptions include suicide attempts and hospitalizations. (Typically, the hospital that admits the student will contact the parents. College officials would make a follow-up call or provide assistance directly to parents at the hospital.)

For complete information on the college discipline process and procedures please refer to the Student Conduct Code on the Student Life Web site.