Colleges keeping transcripts hostage

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by degree, Nov 4, 2016.

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  1. degree

    degree New Member

    Slightly off topic, but I encountered this problem recently. I graduated few years ago with a bachelors and got my diploma and a bunch of transcripts. When I applied to WGU I felt it might be faster to send the transcripts via clearinghouse so I tried to place and order and found out that there is a financial hold on my account. On calling the school I found out that there was apparently a $60 parking ticket which has mushroomed into a good $400 something fine with all the interest and late fees. I honestly don't remember or re call anything about this ticket. I got around this issue by just mailing one of the transcripts I had thankfully got at the time of graduation. Remember, the school doesn't allow diplomas to be issued to students with outstanding accounts so this has to have happened after I graduated. It doesn't affect me right now but I'm kinda pissed off at how they keep your transcripts hostage so I would like to contest this. Is there a statute of limitations for debt collection?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2016
  2. catlin0915

    catlin0915 New Member

    Not sure about a statute of limitations, but I know that holding transcripts hostage till all fees are paid is common practice. So far I haven't come across this myself, but I've heard and read articles about this happening. If it's been sent to a debt collection agency, they purchased your debt at a smaller amount than they are charging you. Many of them can be negotiated with and if you can get them to come clean about how much they paid for it, breaking even would be better than losing money without ever claiming any cash. Look up some strategies online about how to deal with collection agencies and give them a call.
     
  3. degree

    degree New Member

    They haven't sold my debt to a collection agency. It's still with the school and they wrote it off on their books but it's still shows as pending debt on my account. It's technically just a $60 parking ticket. I remember if you paid it within 7 days the university parking office used to have a 50% "discount". I don't remember this ticket and I don't think it's fair to hold the transcript hostage for a parking ticket. I did some research online and seems like this is a common occurrence but the difference is that most of those people seem to owe tuition to the school. They took a few classes and dropped out and a few years later they tried to get transcripts to transfer credit. I don't owe them a penny in tuition, otherwise they would have never let me graduate.
     
  4. catlin0915

    catlin0915 New Member

    It's true that in most of the instances that I have heard and read about were tuition fees owed, but any amount owed to the school could be seen at the same I guess from the school's prospective. Could you contest the fact that you didn't know? I'm sure everyone would use it as an excuse not to pay a parking ticket, but maybe you would work something out with the school. To ask is free, and if they say no I don't think you would be any worse off. Then again you never know.
     
  5. TomE

    TomE New Member

    I second this. Unfortunate situation, but I would think that they would be happy to get SOMETHING out of you. I would think you will probably be asked to pay for than the original amount, but less than $400 (hopefully, much less). Unfortunately, many institutions and employers won't accept any transcripts other than those provided directly from the institution so this is something that you'll probably have to take care of at some point.
     
  6. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    A few years ago I moved from one town to another and somewhere in the shuffle I didn't pay the excise tax on my Jeep. Then when I had to renew the Jeep's registration they wouldn't let me do it until I paid the tax. Now is that holding my Jeep hostage? Maybe in a way it is but that's the whole point isn't it? If you don't pay your bills there are consequences. I'd be willing to bet that if you pleaded hardship and offered them $100 they'd take the money and give you the transcripts. Good luck.
     
  7. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    the schools use the power that they have, your transcripts. You can ask - tell them it was a mistake, an oversight, etc. see if they'll settle for less- be sure that's in writing btw, but if it were me, I don't have the brain space and time to devote a dozen hours and angst to take care of $400. Besides, if they ARE charging fees and penalties, this will get a lot higher as time progresses. I know, it's a lot of cash, but at the same time, in the scheme of life, it's pennies. Get er done and move on.
     
  8. degree

    degree New Member

    Appreciate all the replies but the idea that you have to pay your bills makes it sound like I tried to evade paying bills. Like I said, the university like many others don't let you graduate without making sure your account is clean. So this was obviously put on my account after graduation. Secondly I don't recall this ticket. Thirdly there is a statute of limitations on any collection including credit card bills. So even if I was trying to "evade" paying bills they have to legally stop collecting after the period expires. They could put it on the credit report and that would go away after 7 years as well. In my case, the statute of limitations in the state where the school is located is 5 years and it's been 7 years since I graduated. I'm trying to find ways to legally refuse to pay this so called debt because I don't know I owe anything and they haven't supplied me any proof or contacted me in the last 7 years. I already have 4 more transcripts with me so I have my ass covered. But I'd like to get it taken care of.
     
  9. degree

    degree New Member

    I see your point but my question was more in the lines of the legality. How long can they LEGALLY hold your transcripts hostage?
     
  10. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    Then you should wait for our team of lawyers to chime in. Oh, wait.....
     
  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Or we could ask, "How long can you legally avoid paying a debt?" I suppose they could turn it over to a collection agency and spoil your credit.
     
  12. Davewill

    Davewill Member

    I think they could probably lock you out forever. If I stiff a local merchant, they might eventually have to give up on collection, but nothing can make them do business with me again.
     
  13. degree

    degree New Member

    If they wanted to do that - they could have done it 7 years ago and I would have seen it on my credit report. But they didn't and did not even send me a single letter or call me. Now all my research indicates that the statute of limitations has expired. During my phone conversation, I asked them for a detailed explanation of the debt owned, copy of the 7 year old ticket with proof. Every debt collector has to legally provide you with this. The lady told me that she doesn't have it and maybe the parking department does. I to,d her that it's none of my concern, she has to legally provide me with that if she claims that I owe them money. If she sends it, then I shall write them a letter that the statute of limitations is over...if she can't find the ticket then they aren't able to legally collect. If they still hold my transcript then I'll lodge a complaint with DoE or the accreditation agency. We shall see. Again, I know it sounds like a waste of time but it's just a phone call or a complaint form on their website. It's a matter of principles more than money tbh.
     
  14. degree

    degree New Member

    Yes true, but that doesn't mean the warranty on the product you bought from them is nullified. They can refuse to enroll me again which is akin to doing business. But I have earned and paid for the degree which is a product.

    Also to reiterate I didn't stifle them. I would have easily paid off the ticket at a 50% discount of $30 HAD I KNOWN ABOUT IT. I just found out. It could be an incorrectly issued ticket too - I have no clue. I'm more pissed because they never even called me. My cell number hasn't changed for years. I am not even in a need for a transcript right now as I have 4 of them. But I would like to get it settled. I'm sure if I didn't have a transcript and needed one they would have strong armed me into paying. Now I have a better negotiating power.
     
  15. degree

    degree New Member

    Also a small clarification since this seems to be getting misconstrued. I honestly believe that if you go to a school you ought to pay the tuition owed. However on the other hand once a school lets a student graduate after making sure all obligations are completed, the school has an ethical and moral responsibility to provide proof of the degree. Apart from money, students invest their sweat and blood for four long years to graduate college. A random post graduation parking fine or similar frivolous charges aren't a good rationale for holding transcripts hostage (as per my view of course). However, if a student drops off without paying tuition or refuses to pay student loans, that's a different story both morally and legally. Legally student loans don't go away unless bankruptcy is declared.
     
  16. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Um, student loans do not go away in bankruptcy.
     
  17. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    So what have you decided to do?
     
  18. Lagu88

    Lagu88 Member

    For some case like myself, we loan from the bank under our government education scheme and the full tuition fees is paid to the university. Hence, we won't have degree hostage. After graduation, we will return the amount bits by bits to the bank. Lucky for me, I returned all already. But have not come to know that even parking fee can cause degree hostage.
     
  19. Davewill

    Davewill Member

    I wasn't saying you had, just expressing my opinion that, legally, they can probably freeze you out forever. If I were in your shoes, I'd start negotiating and get it resolved... Paying the whole thing if that's what it took to clear my account, but that's me.
     
  20. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    So you've decided to hire a lawyer and take this to court? Best of luck convincing the judge to you're way of thinking.
     

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