Colleges keeping transcripts hostage

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

  1. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    A few things...

    1. In some states there is a limit to how long you can pursue certain debts.

    2. Even if you are not legally responsible for paying that debt there is nothing that can ever force the school to release your transcripts. So, even if the state of X says you don't have to pay it because it has been too long, that doesn't compel the school to release the transcripts.

    Well, the problem is that it doesn't. You can argue that they should have an ethical and moral obligation but, in the words of the Dude; that's just like, your opinion, man. And even if we concede that they have such an obligation that doesn't translate to a legal obligation to do as you suggest.

    My wife had one of these situations. Her transcripts had been released long enough to get to the licensing boards but shy of her receiving her physical diploma in the mail. Then the conflict and then the chest pounding as she decided to fight the good fight. Her first employer was having none of it. Even though she had her provisional license in hand and it was very clear to them that she graduated they made it very clear that if she didn't get a physical copy of her diploma soon then the new job was going bye-bye. Not because the physical diploma means more than the transcripts but because that particular employer wanted his therapists to all have a well appointed Masters degree framed and on the wall of the office where they would be seeing clients. She could have argued against that as well.

    In the end she put her big girl pants on, paid the debt, got the diploma, and moved on with her life.

    Her's, incidentally, was $1,200. So it was a huge blow to both her pride and her credit card to accept defeat. But it wasn't worth the hassle.

    For myself, I learned of a parking violation at Scranton some time after I was in the Navy. It was a $40 ticket and I would have also been prevented from sending out transcripts as well. I went to the campus police office during my first leave post-RTC. There, in an incredibly respectful and contrite manner, I accepted responsibility while wearing my brand spankin' new uniform, and told them I wanted to resolve it. They waived the fee. Life went on.

    I get that you don't think this should cause your transcripts to be "held hostage." You've made that clear. The thing you need to realize is that:

    1. Your opinion doesn't matter. At all. It is completely and utterly irrelevant outside of your own mind.
    2. You boycotting this fee has more potential to harm you in the long term than the university.
    3. Many people have sued their school over the "moral and ethical" obligation to release transcripts once tuition was paid. They are also routinely held for disciplinary reasons. I read of a case where a Cornell grad had his transcripts and diploma held for three years post-graduation as a result of a disciplinary hearing (i.e. they "sentenced" him to not getting transcripts or a physical diploma for three years post-graduation for a disciplinary infraction). He sued and lost. If you sue you'll probably lose. This battle has been fought many times. Learn from Napoleon, young Adolf.
  2. degree

    degree New Member

    Thanks guys....all points well taken. Just one question - do they have an obligation to provide proof of the debt owned? I.e. A copy of the ticket? Or do I have to just swallow that as well? If that were so, then anyone would claim that someone owes them something without documentary evidence. I honestly don't recall getting this ticket and I had left the campus way before the graduation ceremony (right after finals). I don't know how I can end up with a ticket on a car that was never on campus during the alleged time.

    Anyway based on the replies here, I think I might consider negotiating after they provide me a copy of the alleged ticket. I don't care how long the negotiation takes, a month or a year, because I'm in no hurry for my transcripts right now. But I'll settle this for sure. Hopefully for $60 max.
  3. degree

    degree New Member

    No that would be silly considering the amount involved. Based on all suggestions and replies here, I'm planning on waiting for them to send me a copy of the alleged ticket and then start negotiations. Like I said, for now, I'm in no hurry for a transcript.
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Good luck

    "yes you did":argue:"No I didn't"
  5. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly

    Bravery is not one of the signature traits of university administrators. If they get a letter from an attorney, they might fold. Just saying.
  6. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    If you google "university policy outstanding balance account" you'll get over 5 million hits - till you've bored yourself to death, you can read policy after policy of universities saying that you don't get your transcript when you owe money. I was bored after 3, but here's a sample:

    By the act of registration, class attendance, or participation in other activities associated with enrollment at Georgetown, the student accepts financial responsibility for charges assessed to his/her student account. Charges include those for tuition, mandatory fees, room, board, and fines (such as late payment penalties, library fines, and fees associated with the cost of collection in the event of a delinquency, among others). This financial responsibility is not relieved until payment has been made for any and all charges incurred.

    Georgetown also throws in this little ditty Past due balances are non-negotiable and will not be recalled from the collection agency once submitted. Ouch.
  7. cowboysfan

    cowboysfan New Member

    The statute of limitations on collecting bills applies to them able to sue you in court-- if sued a decade later, you can show up in court and contest with "statute of limitations has passed." Any debt holder can attempt to sue you years after the statute of limitations; the statute of limitations is simply a defense you use in court asking the court to drop the case and not let a debt-owner writ your account or win a small claims as the debt has expired.

    Statute of limitations as a court defense doesn't require an original "lender" (in your case, college" to do business with you decades after the debt you owe them expires--- f you owe money to a college, or owe money to CitiBank, the original lender can choose to not do business with you until you pay them. In this case, the college's "business" with you is transcripts, and colleges can hold transcripts for any money owed for a lifetime. They can't sue you a decade later in court if you show up in court with the statute of limitations excuse, nor can they report on your credit report a collection at this point (not successfully, anyway- if the do, you can dispute it on your credit report and it will drop so long as the date of collection years ago is accurate) but they can permanently hold transcripts and not do "business" with you until you pay them. If you owed Citibank money, Citibank could have a clause in their terms and conditions to settle all previous debts-- and use a new account you have with them to settle old debts. Same with colleges, a college owed money doesn't have to give you transcripts, a degree, let you take classes, nothing, until paid. Or ever, as colleges can deny enrollment and transcripts for several reasons- debt owed, disciplinary, etc.

    Unfortunately, not knowing of a parking ticket doesn't invalidate it or the amount owed and could not be used as a defense in court.

    If you don't need transcripts or to do "any business" with your college, sure, don't pay-- the debt statute of limitations and credit report collection would have expired already. The problem is- you want their transcripts, and they're not going to give them to you-- nor do they have to-- until the debt is paid and they clear the financial hodl on your student account. There's no way around it, other than never asking them for transcripts.

    I would contact them, plead poverty, and try to settle if you need transcripts later. Otherwise, they don't have an obligation to do business with you- like no lender/company/college has to- until the debt is paid. If you don't need transcripts ever, you could easily never pay for life-- but they'll never give you transcripts and aren't required to. Statute of limitations is a defense in court, not a requirement for a company, college, or business owed a debt to do business with you (or give you transcripts, as the "business with you" is here).
  8. TomE

    TomE New Member

    They may not have the copy of the actual ticket any more, but they probably have a record of the violation, time and date logged somewhere. I agree that it does kind of suck when it seems as though anyone could just pull something out of thin air from years past and use it against you, but I'm not sure how long one can reasonably expect for a fining entity to keep a hold of the original copy of this kind of document (seems like there is a reasonable expectation on both sides to fulfill obligations in a timely manner).

    Ultimately, I think you're making the right choice. The situation sucks and nobody wants to compromise on principles, but $60 could be a small price to pay for a future job that may not have accepted your personally mailed transcript copies.
  9. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    You may find as you dig into this that a mistake was made. They might have record of the incident and that might include a vehicle description. If it isn't a vehicle you ever owned then maybe you can plead with the powers that be that this was all an unfortunate misunderstanding. Maybe you can get it written off due to the time involved. Maybe you can settle it for a lesser amount.

    I think that you might be surprised what polite and respectful discourse can shake loose.

    Unless you're dealing with Verizon, of course. In which case yelling and escalation are both authorized as the user sees fit.
  10. GAGuy

    GAGuy New Member

    You keep referring to your college as a debt collector. Your college is *NOT* a debt collector and therefore likely not required to provide you any of that information you list. If you have an outstanding balance with them, they will continue to refuse to release your transcript as long as they want. They also are not required to forgive your debt after a statute of limitations. They simply can't negatively impact your credit report over it.
  11. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    insert mic drop emoji here.
  12. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    If this thread gets any longer then I might pay the stupid fine just to have it done.:grumble:
  13. Davewill

    Davewill Member

    One thing to consider is that a potential employer may attempt to verify your attendance and diploma and could be rebuffed and told of the hold. Embarrassing.
  14. degree

    degree New Member

    I have already had degree verification done on me before. Most employers do a degree verification via a third party that uses clearinghouse "Degree Verify". It was always clear which implies that the university is just holding my transcript hostage, but they do inform electronically that I have received my degree (perhaps legally required? not sure). If I had an issue with degree verification, I would have known this a long time ago! Most employers usually don't need to see your transcript, they just want to know if you actually got the degree you claim on your resume.

    As for the ticket, they haven't mailed me a copy yet and I haven't got a chance to call and follow up. Might do it next week. I honestly feel that this is something they pulled out of thin air, or it might have been a genuine misunderstanding. It could happen that the ticket on someone else's car got coded in my name. I agree that ignorance of a ticket doesn't invalidate it, but the department giving out the ticket needs to be able to produce a copy when requested.

    I intend to pursue this just as a matter of principles, but I'd do it at my own pace and convenience. Once I call them and follow up about the copy of the ticket that I had requested from them, I should know more.
  15. degree

    degree New Member

    Not wanting to resurrect an old thread but the school could not find the parking ticket and ended up waiving the parking ticket charge and released my transcript. I got 4 sealed copies just in case. I have 2 more graduate degrees now so the undergrad degree isn't as important I guess.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  16. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member


    SteveFoerster likes this.
  17. Acolyte

    Acolyte Member

    Enlist allies- find someone at the school and ask them for help. “I really need your help” will get you much further than
    ,”I’m not paying that!” - and if that fails, just pay the damn thing and move on. It’s something from the past- you’lol waste more than $400 in time trying to fight it if you think your time is worth anything. Pay the fine and move it permanently into your past, not your present, and it will no longer affect your future.
    Mac Juli likes this.

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