FAQs Regarding SSU and Your Student

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Records / Safety / Health and Wellness / Housing, Residential Community & Student Conduct / Money Management & Financial Aid Services / Employment and Career Options / Registration and Progress to Degree / Academics / Studying Abroad / Logistics

Note: This is a draft. Information is subject to change without notice.



What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is the keystone privacy law prohibiting disclosure of personally identifiable information from student education records - even to parents - without prior written consent. SSU's policy is to release student information directly, and only, to students.

What are education records?

FERPA regulations define education records as "those records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting as the agency or institution." These records include grades, transcripts, course schedules, financial aid records, disciplinary records and other personally identifiable, confidential information.

What constitutes student's consent?

Consent must be in writing and must specify the records to be disclosed, the purpose of the disclosure and the party to whom disclosure may be made. Consent is not required for disclosure of information from education records to school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the records because the information is necessary to perform a job-related task.

What rights does FERPA provide and to whom do these rights extend?

While a student is attending elementary and secondary school, and is under age 18, parents/legal guardians exercise FERPA rights on behalf of the student. These rights transfer directly to the student upon his/her enrollment in a college or university, even if that student enrolls prior to reaching the age of 18. FERPA provides each enrolled student the following rights: to inspect and review education records; request an amendment; limit disclosure; and to file a complaint.

Where can I obtain records or proof of my student's full-time enrollment status for health insurance purposes and/or G.P.A. for "good student discounts" on auto insurance?

Students can obtain an Enrollment Verification Form from Admissions and Records or can print the form from the Admissions website. The form is turned in to Admissions & Records and may take 2-3 days to be returned (there may be a delay at the start of each semester due to high volume of requests). Forms will be returned via USPS or may be picked up at Admissions & Records.

Can I see my student's grades?

Grades are posted each semester on PeopleSoft. Sonoma State University does not release grades to anyone but the student. Parents are encouraged to discuss academic progress directly with their students.



How can I find out about safety at SSU? Is there a campus escort service available?

Sonoma State University Police and Parking Services provides 24 hour a day police protection for the campus community. SSU Police Officers are vested with full enforcement powers and responsibilities, identical to the local police and sheriff in your home community.



What campus healthcare services are available to my student?
Regularly enrolled SSU students are eligible to receive free and low cost services as described on the web pages of the Sonoma State University Student Health Center (SHC) http://www.sonoma.edu/shc/ and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) - http://www.sonoma.edu/counselingctr/.   

Will I be notified if my student is treated at the Student Health Center or Counseling and Psychological Services? 
Federal and state confidentiality laws and professional ethical codes preclude healthcare and mental health providers from sharing such information without the written informed consent of the patient. Such consent is legally limited to circumstances that are in process or have already taken place and cannot be rendered in advance or on a blanket basis.  See http://www.sonoma.edu/shc/consumer-information/privacy-confidentiality.html.

Will I be notified if my student is hurt or injured on campus?
Family notification may occur, with the student’s consent via the treating hospital or if the University becomes aware of a particularly serious or life threatening circumstance. Otherwise the University will encourage and rely on the student to inform appropriate family members.
What options are available to my student after hours, when the Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services are closed?
See http://www.sonoma.edu/shc/afterhours-guidelines.html for a list of local after hours health care providers as well as health and mental health hotlines. Other after hours options (including the Student Health Center’s after hours nurse advice line) are also described on this website. Campus Police are 24/7 emergency first responders and can be reached by dialing 707 664-4444 or by dialing 911 while on campus. Calling 911 is the best option for for medical or other emergencies that occur off campus.

Does my student need health insurance?
Health insurance is not required for SSU students to use the Student Health Center or Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).  Neither the Health Center nor CAPS bill insurance, as most of their services are provided without charge to regularly enrolled SSU students or are heavily discounted. However, health insurance or similar coverage is strongly recommended to help students and their families cover the cost of off-campus medical needs such as urgent care or hospital visits, ambulance transport, specialty care, complex diagnostic tests, out of area care or other services that are beyond the scope or hours of operation of the Student Health Center or CAPS.  Students should have a basic understanding of any third party coverage they may have and always carry their insurance card with them.  For more detailed information, see http://www.sonoma.edu/shc/consumer-information/health-insurance.html

Is alcohol a problem at Sonoma State University?
The illegal or unsafe use of alcohol and other drugs (including marijuana and prescription drugs) is potentially problematic in any setting.  Because these behaviors can interfere with student learning, the rights of others, SSU’s educational mission and our commitment to the health and safety of the campus community, Sonoma State University expects compliance with all policies, laws, regulations and common sense guidelines applicable to the use and misuse of alcohol and other substances.  To address these issues, SSU provides trainings, resources, and mechanisms to facilitate compliance as well as disciplinary interactions when necessary. In addition, since there is considerable evidence that parents and family members continue to play a critical role in the decision-making and success of their students, we strongly encourage parents and family members to continue to discuss mutual expectations for a healthy, goal-directed college experience with their students, including: the hazards of misusing alcohol and other drugs, the value of speaking-up for what’s right in unsettling circumstances, and understanding the potentially life-saving importance of a prompt 911 call under SSU’s Good Samaritan Amnesty Policy.

Resources for parents and family members include:





How are roommate disputes handled?

Many disputes can be resolved before they begin by roommates taking some time at the beginning of the year to complete a Roommate Agreement Form and by addressing concerns in a respectful manner as they arise. Students can also talk with their Community Service Advisor (CSA), who can assist in the creation of an agreement and aid in mediating any conflicts. Information will be shared at building meetings when students move into the Residential Community this fall.

How can I get more information regarding a Housing/Residential Life judicial sanction my student has received?

University Housing expects residents to act maturely, responsibly and respectfully. You are encouraged to speak directly to your student to get as much information as possible about any incidents. Due to the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), staff cannot provide information about student records without a Release of Information Form signed by the student. Housing and Residential Life staff can provide general information about rules and procedures, but not specifics about incidents.

Students found in violation of housing policies are subject to administrative and educational sanctions. If violations are serious or repetitive, the administrative sanction can include termination of the student's on-campus housing license. In such cases, students are required to move off campus but continue to pay campus housing and dining fees for the remainder of their housing contract. The university strongly encourages students and parents to communicate about expectations of behaviors while living in the Residential Community and sharing when violations or incidents occur.

For more information on Student Conduct, please refer to your orientation handbook.



Do students need to apply for financial aid and scholarships every year? When will my student receive his/her financial aid funds?

Please refer to your Orientation handbook for more information about financial aid and loan disbursements.

What happens on a student financial account?

When a student incurs charges for registration, campus housing, and other items, the charges are placed on the student's account as amounts due. The student account also displays payments made toward these charges and financial aid, if applicable, as credits. Charges and payments related to meals are handled separately by the Sonoma State Enterprises.

Can bills and statements be sent to me rather than my student since I am paying them?

All bills/statements will be emailed only the student's SSU email address. It will be the student's responsibility to forward the bill to all interested parties. Make sure your student is checking his/her SSU account for messages regarding fees and payments before each semester begins.

What happens when fees are not paid?

Holds are placed on a student's account when situations occur that require the student's attention, such as a past due payment. Such holds can prevent a student from registering for classes for the next term or acquiring a transcript. Non-payment of fees can even result in class cancellation. It is important for your student to track their account activity to prevent or resolve holds and loss of classes.



How many hours should my student work while attending college?

While it is difficult to assess financial need for each individual, research suggests an ideal, or no more, than 15 hours per week, for best academic performance. This varies individually and should be discussed with your student. Discuss with your student the importance of prioritizing and encourage him/her to be realistic with time management. Refer to our Average Student Week in your handbook.

What employment options are available to students?

Students can locate part-time and full-time employment on or off campus, and internships, through the Career Services online job search tool. See SSU's career website and click on "For Students."



How do students register for classes?

Students have three opportunities to enroll in classes each semester. There is Pass 1 and Pass 2 by appointment and Pass 3 which is an open registration period and does not require an appointment. Students can use each of these registration times to add, drop or swap courses based on availability. It is crucial that the next semester fees are paid by the deadlines or the student will forfeit their classes. Each pass allows students to register for more units up to the maximum allowable unit load. For serious and compelling reasons to exceed the unit load for a semester, students should contact the campus Registrar with a written letter of request.

What happens if my student fails a class?

We strongly encourage students to talk with their instructor before their grades slip to failing, but in the event of a failing grade, undergraduates may repeat up to 24 units of courses taken at SSU (not including classes that can be repeatedly taken for credit, i.e., P.E. classes) if they received a C-, D+, D-, F, WU, NC or IC. For the full course repeat policy please view, SSU's repeat course policy.

Where can my student find out about academic probation/disqualification?

Students should visit the Dean's Office, major department or their advisor for assistance if they find themselves in a situation where academic probation/disqualification is possible.

Probation - A student a will be subject to academic probation if the Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) in all university work attempted OR in all work attempted at SSU, falls below the minimum GPA of 2.0. Students on academic probation must seek academic advising and/or attend a probation workshop; otherwise an advising hold may be placed on the student's record restricting them from conducting some university business, including class enrollment.

Disqualification - Undergraduate students are subject to disqualification when, after at least two semesters at SSU, either their SSU GPA and/or their GPA for all college work falls below the Grade Point Averages:

  • Freshmen (0-29 units completed): 1.5
  • Sophomores (30-59) units completed: 1.70
  • Juniors (60-89 units completed: 1.85
  • Seniors (90 or more units completed) 1.95
  • Policy on Academic Probation, Disqualification and Progress



    How does my student know what is required of each course?

    At the beginning of each course, students are given a syllabus stating the instructor's expectations of students. These expectations typically include reading, written work, laboratory work, grading procedures, and class attendance. These are requirements for receiving a satisfactory grade in the course. If students have questions or concerns about the expectations, the students should discuss this with the instructor.

    What are some tips for academic success I can share with my student? Encourage your student to:

    • Assume responsibility for his/her student record. It is important students do not share the ID or PeopleSoft information with anyone, even university services personnel such as IT (Information Technology).
    • Email is an official means of communication at SSU and students are encouraged to check their SSU E-mail at least once a day;
    • Discuss with your student the importance of checking their academic records for accuracy and contacting Admissions and Records if there is a discrepancy or question about the information.
    • Keep a calendar of assignments, appointments, dates and deadlines. The academic calendar and calendar of events are available 24 hours a day on the SSU website.
    • If you are financially contributing to your student's attendance, make them responsible for informing you of important fee deadlines;
    • Attend office hours with their faculty member, especially if they are having difficulty with a class. If a student has a conflict with an instructor's office hours, an individual appointment can be scheduled.
    • Schedule an appointment each semester prior to registration with their advisor so they remain on track for graduation. Advisors not only assist students in developing personal, professional, and career goals that are challenging, worthy and realistic but help them achieve those goals.
    • Encourage your student to explore co-curricular involvement opportunities. Studies show involvement in outside-the-classroom activities helps students succeed academically and progress toward graduation.

    Does my student need to take remedial courses in English and/or Math?

    The California State University requires each entering undergraduate, except those who qualify for an exemption, to take the CSU Entry level Mathematics (ELM) and English Placement Test (EPT) prior to enrollment. These placement tests are not a condition for admission to the CSU, but they are a condition of enrollment. These exams are designed to identify entering students who may need additional support in acquiring basic English and Mathematics skills necessary to succeed in baccalaureate-level courses. Students who do not demonstrate college-level skills in both English and Math will be placed in appropriate remedial programs and activities during their first year at SSU. Failure to complete this remediation within the first year may result in denial of enrollment for future terms. Refer to your handbook for more information.

    How many units should my student take each semester?

    To complete a bachelor's degree in four years, a student usually needs to take an average of 15 units per semester for 8 semesters (4 years). However, this does not mean students will be taking exactly 15 units every semester. The full-time unit load ranges from 12-20 units which is typically 4-6 courses. If students are receiving financial aid or require medical insurance coverage, they must carry a minimum of 12 units. Remediation courses count toward full-time enrollment status, however, do not count toward graduation or the GPA.

    What are General Education requirements and when should my student start taking these courses?

    Through a program of General Education courses, students learn a variety of basic skills and modes of disciplinary inquiry. General Education courses are not simply the preliminary and introductory studies of the various disciplines: rather, they provide the necessary context for the more specific study in the major and for selection of appropriate electives. Completion of these General Education courses is required for graduation. For a GE requirement list, Refer to your handbook, or visit www.sonoma.edu/advising/ge/50.pdf.

    Where do students buy textbooks and other school supplies?

    Sonoma State University has a Barnes and Noble Bookstore on campus that supplies required textbooks and school supplies. North Light Books and Cafe in Cotati, about 2 miles from campus, supplies required textbooks. Some instructors ask that students purchase Readers instead of a textbook. The class syllabus will list requirements for the course.


    Studying Abroad

    My student is interested in studying abroad. Is this possible at Sonoma State?

    The Center for International Education offers both domestic and international exchange opportunities for students interested in studying away for a semester or year. The National Student Exchange program offers a choice of nearly 200 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. Students interested in an international experience can choose from a variety of programs, including the systemwide CSU International Programs. For more information, visit the CIE office in International Hall 107 or www.sonoma.edu/cie.



    My student is a vegetarian. What types of food are available on campus?

    SSU Dining Services offers a wide variety of food options at a number of dining facilities. Each day meals are specially prepared and vegetarian options are offered at some locations. For dining locations and types of food served, visit our Dinning Services website or call (707) 664-2993.

    Does the University allow a freshman to bring a car on campus? Is it necessary for my student to have a car?

    Yes, all students are allowed to bring a car to campus. Each car must display a parking decal for the current semester/year at all times. Parking decal information can be found in your handbook.

    It is not necessary for your student to have a car. Students living in the Residential Community have found it fairly easy to find rides with their roommates and friends. We also have a bus stop at the entrance to our campus that follows the Sonoma County transit schedule.

    How much money should my student have for social (extra-curricular), emergency or other school-related reasons?

    For a detailed list, please go to our Fees page.

    I want to send a package to my student. What is the address?

    Students love getting mail and packages and you can send mail to your student at their on-campus mailbox at the addresses below. Packages too big for the mailbox will be delivered to the Post Office located in Zinfandel and students can pick it up there during open hours.

    1. Students living in Zinfandel, Verdot or Cabernet Village - 1701 E. Cotati Ave. Box # ___
    2. Students living in Sauvignon Village - 1721 E. Cotati Ave. Box # ___
    3. Students living in Beaujolais Village - 1949 E. Cotati Ave. Box # ___

    Send to:

    Sonoma State University
    1, 2 or 3 above
    Rohnert Park, CA 94928

    What type of computer should my student bring to campus?

    Information Technology is the university department that helps students, faculty and staff use computing, network, and telecommunications services. IT has created the Get Connected website to detail all information you need for a successful computing experience at SSU. Whether your students is buying a new computer or bringing one they already own, make sure their computer meets the 2008-09 Computer Recommendations for Incoming Students. IT staff will be stationed throughout the Residential Community during move-in weekend to assist with any phone, computer, internet problems. For computer information, visit: SSU's IT Help Desk.