Study Abroad Italy (SAI) is a student-centered study abroad program and we communicate directly with our students during each step of the process. While we are willing to discuss our programs with parents and other family members, in many cases, we are not at liberty to share student information in order to comply with certain federal privacy laws. Generally speaking, these regulations protect a student’s information, particularly as they pertain to grades, academic standing, finances, disciplinary action, etc.
SAI considers parental support to be very important throughout a student’s international experience. In order to keep parents and guardians as involved as possible, we encourage you to talk openly and frequently with your son/daughter about any questions or concerns you might have. While federal law, specifically The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), prevents SAI and its partner institutions from sharing confidential information about our students, SAI is allowed to share some information directly with the student’s home school. Prior to departure, students often have the opportunity at their home school to designate an emergency contact as well as to waive access to information about them while abroad. These steps help facilitate the flow of information regarding the student’s well-being throughout the study abroad experience.
We invite you to browse the resources available on our website to better understand where SAI stands on student privacy issues.
What is The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)? Where can I find additional information about FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records, although these rights transfer to the student when s/he reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.
According to FERPA, college students are considered responsible adults and are allowed to determine who will receive information about them. Under this law, parents or guardians who want to receive a copy of their student’s academic or financial records can do so if their student signs a release form. The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for overseeing FERPA. For additional information, please visit: www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/.
Will SAI contact me in the case of an emergency?
All SAI students are required to list two emergency contacts during the application process. In the event of an emergency, we will get in touch with the emergency contact listed by the student. Please be sure to speak with your child if you would like to be listed as this contact.
Student safety is SAI’s first priority and SAI is committed to always acting in the best interest of the student. In case of an emergency, SAI will seek the support of our on-site staff and relevant local health and safety providers in order to provide the necessary care as well as to obtain pertinent student information. Please visit SAI’s Safety Procedures webpage for a list of our on-site staff 24/7 emergency phone numbers as well as for additional details regarding SAI’s Safety and Crisis Management Procedure.
Will I be contacted if my child is sick or hurt? What if my child is in academic trouble or facing disciplinary action?
The quickest, easiest way for parents to receive information about their child is for the student to provide it directly. In most cases, SAI will not contact parents or provide medical, academic or disciplinary information without the student’s written consent. In case of an emergency where the student’s health is in jeopardy, or there is a concern that the student poses a threat to him/herself or to someone else, SAI will contact parents. As a general guideline, if the student is able to communicate about the situation, it is up to the student to decide what details, if any, s/he shares. But rest assured we always contact parents in any physical crisis.
How can I communicate with my child while s/he is abroad?
Communicating with students abroad can sometimes pose challenges. However, each SAI program participant is provided with a cell phone at arrival orientation in order to facilitate communication throughout the term. This cell phone can receive incoming calls and text messages free of charge while the student is in the host country. In addition, each of our partner institutions abroad offers a computer lab with free internet access. We encourage parents to keep the lines of communication open while your child is abroad so that s/he is inclined to regularly keep you informed of his/her well-being. Furthermore, FERPA laws restrict us from being able to share addresses abroad, cell phone numbers or email addresses, so be sure to obtain this information from your child prior to his/her departure.
Can I have a copy of my child’s study abroad program invoice in order to remit payment?
Parents can receive a copy of a student’s study abroad invoice if the student makes the request in writing. On the SAI application, students have the opportunity to designate whether or not SAI can share financial information with their parents.
If I am paying for my child’s study abroad program, can I receive information about my child?
Parents can receive information about their child if the student agrees in writing to provide this access. On the SAI application, students have the opportunity to designate whether or not SAI can share financial information with their parents. Because academic information cannot be shared with parents/guardians, we encourage you to communicate directly with your son/daughter regarding their studies abroad.