Parents and Families

Postsecondary education represents an important shift in a student's education. In postsecondary education, students are responsible for their education and their success. While there are a number of key differences between K-12 and postsecondary education, there are a few differences worth highlighting that relate more specifically to parents and families. Here are some key things to know and how you can help your student get started. 

Some Key Things to Know

Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) is an important law relating to the release and sharing of student information and data. In K-12 education, parents have certain rights to information about a student record. However, things change within postsecondary education when a student becomes an "eligible student". At that point, "all rights under FERPA transfer from the parent to the student" (A Parent Guide to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)). 

When it comes to the work of SAS, this means that the student has the right to their data and information and SAS has the obligation of keeping that information private. SAS can only share information about a student (i.e., registration status, documentation, meeting status, accommodation record) with specific permission from the student. Students may choose to complete a Release of Information (ROI), which allows SAS to share information about the student record with a parent or family member. However, it is at the discretion of the student to complete an ROI and they are under no obligation to complete it. 

UNH Registrar - Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA)

Student Responsibilities 

Another change that is worth noting is that in K-12 education students were identified and provided services based on the identified need. In postsecondary education, students are responsible for self-identifying and completing all steps in the interactive accommodation process (Step 1: Register with SAS, Step 2: Submit Documentation, Step 3: Meet with SAS). Parents can support students throughout this process, but it is the responsibility of the student to engage in and complete the process. 

SAS Student Handbook

Email Communication 

Another big shift is related to how things are communicated with your student. In K-12 education there are often multiple reminders that are shared in person. While students will have in-person communications, more often than not information from campus offices and instructors will be shared over email. The majority of communication from SAS will go through the student's UNH email address, and students are encouraged to frequently check their UNH email. 

Helping Your Student Get Started 

There are a number of ways that parents and families can help a student within the interactive accommodation process. Here are a few suggestions for how you can help your student. 

  1. Help your student learn more about accommodations at UNH and the 3-step interactive process - One important thing you can do is to help the student learn more about accommodations and the accommodation process and how this process will be different for them at UNH. This will help them effectively self-advocate for the supports that they need and be more successful in implementing their accommodations. 
  2. Talk with your student about the types accommodations they may need - The types of supports available in postsecondary education are not always the same as in K-12. Accommodations in postsecondary education are primarily focused on providing students with access to their learning experience. While some of those same types of accommodations may be available, it is important that the student thinks critically about what is essential for them to access their education. 
  3. Help gather any necessary documentation - Part of the interactive accommodation process is submitting documentation. This has a specific meaning and is a little different than in K-12 education. Documentation in postsecondary education discusses the relevant condition, the current functional impacts, and makes potential connections to accommodations. While a 504 plan or an IEP may be helpful in understanding past supports, some of these do not contain information about the condition or the functional impacts. It is important to help your student gather the needed information as soon as they can. 
  4. Encourage your student to complete the Student Accommodation Request Form - If your student is ready to engage in the interactive accommodation process, then UNH students can complete the student accommodation request form. This helps start the accommodation process. Students can share more about their condition and their requests directly with SAS when they complete the request. Parents cannot fill out the form, but they can help support the student in completing it. 
  5. Encourage your student to schedule a meeting with SAS - You can also encourage your student to get in touch with SAS to schedule a meeting. Students are responsible for scheduling and meeting with SAS as an important part of the interactive process. In that meeting, we will talk with the student about their condition, the impact of their condition, and the accommodations they are requesting. Students can choose whether they would like parents or families to attend an SAS meeting (students can invite any advocate they choose to the meeting), but any parent or family participation in SAS meetings is at the discretion of the student.