– How to Access Your College Student’s Record Under The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Do you have children in college? Are you a student in college? Let’s talk about FERPA.

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It is a federal law, enacted in 1974, that applies to all schools that receive federal funding from programs administered by the Department of Education. The law is designed to (1) protect the privacy of student education records, (2) establish the right of students to inspect or review their education records, and (3) provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading information. When students are minors these rights vest with parents. Rights transfer from parents to students once a student turns 18 or enters a postsecondary institution.

Educational records might include grades, transcripts, class lists, course schedules, financial information, or student discipline files directly related to a student.

Students attending a postsecondary institution have several important rights in relation to their education records. They can inspect or review their records, as well as seek to amend legitimate errors. More importantly, students have some control over the release of information from their education records. For example, a student can give written consent to their university or college to release information to parents, employers, or other third parties.

A student’s consent for disclosure must be made in writing and provided to the postsecondary institution. FERPA doesn’t allow oral consent for disclosure of information from education records. Schools are required to notify students annually of their FERPA rights even though the actual means of notification is left to each school’s discretion.

Schools may also disclose directory information without prior consent in certain situations. Under FERPA, information from education records is considered directory information if it isn’t generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information might include a student’s name, address, email address, enrollment status, field of study, degrees pursued, or honors and awards received. But the school must notify students about directory information and allow them a reasonable amount of time to request that their directory information not be disclosed. Again, a student’s request to restrict disclosure of directory information must be made in writing. A request must be honored until the school is notified otherwise.

The Family Policy Compliance Office of the Department of Education handles any alleged FERPA violations. Complaints must be timely filed or submitted to the office within 180 days of the date that the student knew or should’ve known of the violation.

– How to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Scam

In this week’s “Tuesday with Tom”, Tom and his associate Amanda Bevel discuss many of the common scams that are being run to separate you from your money. They point out a number red flags that should alert you to a possible scam, provide tips on how to avoid becoming a victim, and list a number of resources that you can use to check out an offer that you receive and/or to report a scam.

How to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Scam

Listen to Tom’s Interview of Steve Peckham, Certified Funeral Planner

Tom interviews Steve Peckam, Certified Funeral Consultant, and owner of Mid-Michigan Funeral Consulting.

Steve talks about:
– Pre-planning your funeral
– Creating a funeral planning checklist
– Involving your family in your planning
– Whether you should pre-pay for your funeral
– Things to know when planning a traditional funeral
– Whether you have to buy your casket from the funeral home
– Things to know about cremation
– The Importance of shopping around
– and much more

Click HERE to listen to the interview on Tuesday with Tom

New Michigan Legislation Affecting Estate Planning

Last week Gov. Snyder signed 2 new pieces of legislation that can affect an estate plan.

Senate Bill 551 contains several amendments to Michigan’s Probate Code (EPIC) allowing you to designate a “Funeral Representative” who will have the power to make decisions about your funeral arrangements. Before enactment of these amendments, Michigan law established an order of priority for who had authority to plan your funeral, and you could not change it. Now, you  can designate a person who will have that authority.

The second piece of legislation is the “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act”. Among other things, this legislation creates the procedures for how you can give legal authority to an individual to access your digital assets (i.e. email, Facebook, twitter, etc.) in the event of your incapacity or death. The legislation overcomes many of the limitations on access to your digital assets created by Terms of Service Agreements. The legislation, also, establishes what you need to do if you do not want a fiduciary to have access to your digital assets.

Help Prevent Identity Theft After-Death

You can help prevent a loved one’s identity from theft after their death by contacting the credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You will have to provide their Social Security number, and tell the credit bureau that the person has died. Request that their credit report be flagged with the note “Deceased. Do Not Issue Credit.”

If you are in charge of settling the estate you can, also, request a copy of the deceased’s credit report so you know what accounts need to be closed. You might have to provide the credit bureau with a death certificate and your Letters of Authority.