University expands parental GWeb access

A change to the online account systems will give parents and guardians access to student records, a technical shift that will make it easier for parents to directly manage their students’ finances.

Changes to the University’s online information portal will allow students to grant four additional users varying levels of access to their accounts, which display grades, cost of attendance, financial aid awards and class schedules. Each user will have a unique login and password to the system.

David Steinour, chief information officer in the Division of Information Technology, said the University hopes to roll out the changes by this fall.

Parents cannot currently see student data on GWeb, which means students sometimes must act as middlemen between University offices and their parents, Dan Small, associate vice president for financial assistance, said.

“We have found over the years that when a parent or guardian was in contact with one of these offices, the parent may not have had the same information accessible to the student,” Associate Vice President for Financial Assistance Dan Small said.

With the new access to information, Small said parents will be better informed about an issue or concern when reaching out to a GW office, saving time for staff and families.

“We hope the dialogue between the student and parent will be enhanced and the overall communication with all parties improves,” Small said.

Staff members from the Registrar, Student Accounts and Student Financial Assistance and the Division of Information Technology collaborated in the months-long effort to bring broader access. Steinour declined to specify what prompted the group to pursue the upgrade now, which will have no cost, but he said the student accounts office had long “expressed interest in enabling features that would allow parents access to student records online.”

Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said the expansion of access hopes to strengthen ties with parents.

“When you’re in high school, your parents have access to everything. As soon as you go to college, your parents have access to nothing,” Chernak said. “There are a lot of parents who still take care of their students, and we want to support them to do that.”

As plans are finalized, the University must check its compliance with the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, Chernak said. The legislation spells out rights for students and parents in sharing personal information, specifically mentioning that colleges that receive federal funding cannot grant parents access to their students’ information without permission.

Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.

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