Get Out of Debt Guy

My Old University Refuses to Give Me My Transcript

Posted September 4, 2013

Dear Steve,

Hi, I've been reading about how to go back to school while in debt with another university, however, nothing has helped.

I went to a private university, I could not afford the tuition anymore, so I didn't go back. Now the amount I owe them is in collections and they won't release my transcript to start school at my home town nor can I pay off 11k.

Is there any way I can get a settlement even though the school wants me to pay in full to get my transcript?

Can I start all over and just use my transcript from high school and still get financial aid?

I know I can take out a loan but I don't want to dig a deeper hole. Help please!


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Dear Jess,

The practice of holding transcripts by schools is a common one. After you leave school, the transcript is the last collateral the school has to make sure you pay.

There are two options here.

The first is you could negotiate with the school to enter into a repayment plan you can afford in exchange for the transcript.

Second, if you don't have that many hours, or hours that will transfer to the new school you could start over as you suggested.

If you can get financial aid would best be answered by the financial aid office at the new school. But since the old school is holding your transcript it sounds like you don't owe a federal student loan but an obligation directly to the previous college. I see this most often with people who attended one of the for profit online universities.

Generally the requirement to entering college is proof of a high school degree or equivalent. It sounds like you've got that.

Another solution that has worked for others in the past would be to contact the organization that accredited the college and the Department of Education for the state the school is located in. Ask both for help getting your transcript. About 50% people have had some success with that approach in getting their transcript.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Steve Rhode
WRAL Get Out of Debt Guy

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  • rachel Sep 8, 2013

    I find it surprising the school would even let him get 11k in debt. I go to college and the school requires amounts settled each semester, they do not let you "carry over" a balance-and I have had this situation for any college I attended-all schools seem to hold the transcript hostage until all accounts are settled.

About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.