As you might suspect, any federal law is likely to be complicated. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is no exception.
The fundamental issues involved with FERPA are twofold:
- You, as a student, have the right to restrict (with certain exceptions) who does and who does not have access to your academic records.
- You have the right to have access to your own records.
One issue you need to pay attention to is that your parents do not have automatic or easy access to your academic records. If you want your academic adviser to be able to discuss aspects of your degree progress with your parents you must see your adviser and sign a release of information (PDF) before that discussion can take place.