My Niece Left College and Owes Them Money But Wants Her Transcript


Dear Steve,

I am inquiring for my niece. She attended a college in Tallahassee and they will not release her transcript due to a debt they says she owes. She was 7 months pregnant when it became difficult for her to continue. She did not officially withdraw from the classes. She is wanting to finish her education, 7 years later (6 classes short of her degree). She has tried repeatedly to contact the school to resolve the issue. She is no longer in Tallahassee.

What are her recourses?



Dear Cynthia,

It sounds like she withdrew but after the withdrawal period or she might have informed them she was withdrawing. That can result in a debt directly owed to the school.

To get her transcript she would need to resolve the debt or pay it. The school can withhold the transcript in exchange for money owed to them.

One alternative is she can file bankruptcy, discharge the debt she owes the school, and her transcript would be eligible for release.

I’m not sure what school your niece went to but as an example, the University of Florida states, “UF transcripts cannot be released until all UF obligations are satisfied.”

Your niece may be able to get an unofficial copy of her transcript under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) but the school does not have to provide a copy of school records unless your niece lives a great distance away from the school. FERPA only applies to schools who receive funds under programs the U.S. Department of Education is responsible for. Under FERPA, “Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.” – Source

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No school is required to accept an unofficial transcript for transfer credits.

Ultimately the easiest solution here is to either pay the money owed the college or come to a mutually agreeable repayment plan that could give her an official copy of her transcript now.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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