Assuming that a student is enrolled at a school which offers online services to students, it is usually possible to access school grades online. College students typically need to enter their personal identifying information to see grades online once they are posted, and some high schools and other types of K-12 schools may offer online access to parents who would like to monitor school grades online. As a general rule, these services are free of charge, or the price is bundled into tuition fees.
Because grades are considered sensitive information, before grades can be released, the identity of the person requesting the grades needs to be verified. Many schools have online systems for managing classes, requesting financial aid, and performing other routine tasks. In these institutions, people can access school grades online once they enter the dashboard area where they manage other school-related tasks, and the dashboard is accessed with a username and password.
Schools which do not have extensive online services may still issue students and/or parents with usernames and passwords which admit them to systems which allow them to see grades, attendance information, and other basic data. These types of systems can be very useful for parents who may want to keep a close watch on the progress of their children, and for students who want to keep an eye on their grades. Some schools also allow people to phone in and enter a passcode to hear grades over the phone.
The advantage of viewing school grades online is that it is usually possible to do so as soon as grades are received and posted. By viewing grades immediately, people don't have to wait for weeks while report cards are generated and mailed, which can relieve stress and tension. There may also be other reasons for wanting to see grades online, like wanting to check midterm grades to monitor progress in a class, or needing to know grades for the purpose of reporting them to colleges as quickly as possible.
As a general rule, if it is possible to access grades online, the school will send out notifications so that people know how to do so, or directions for finding grades will be included in the brief orientations given to students who utilize online student systems to handle everything from housing to dropping classes. However, the school may not always provide this information, and it does not hurt to ask the registrar about options for viewing school grades online, just in case.