LEGAL BRIEFING - Can I see my kid's college grades without his say-so?


Dear John,

I pay for most of my son's college tuition. I want to know my money is not being wasted, so I think I should be entitled to his grades. He always makes excuses for not showing them to me. When I called the school and identified myself as his father and the person who writes the tuition check, they said that because he is an adult they cannot let me see the grades without his permission. How do I find out what kind of education my money is paying for?


Benefactor Ben

Congratulations of having a son who is working toward a college education! You should be commended for your efforts to financially support him and instill in him the need to continue his education.

Your frustration with the school not giving you access to the grades is understandable. However, they really are not able to give out grades without the consent of the adult student.

One way of resolving this is to continue to speak to your son about seeing his grades. If he has good grades, he might have a legitimate reason to want to keep them a secret -- wouldn't you like to be surprised to learn on graduation day that your son is graduating with honors? If he is getting low marks, you could approach the subject as inquiring whether he needs more financial help, such as paying for a tutor.

It is a bit heavy-handed, but you always can make your tuition payments contingent upon access to grades. The exact expectations could be written into a contract that specifies each party's rights and obligations. Hopefully, this will not be necessary.



John Hartzell is a practicing Walla Walla attorney. No attorney-client relationship is established via this column, which is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Any information given is to illustrate basic legal concepts and does not state how any court would decide any matter. Have a question? Ask John at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment

Click here to sign in