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What is the Difference Between a Grade Report and a Transcript?

By on October 9, 2018

Question:

Dear Steve,

I started college 2011-2013 then after my daughter was borne re-attempted to start in 2014.

2014 Went to a community college but unofficially withdrew now 5.7 K in debt ( I contacted them and they refuse to provide me with my transcript not even the unofficial unless I pay them the entire amount.)

2015 Attempted to go to beauty school. Don’t owe.

2016 same but I couldn’t finish and I owe this school 2.9k for materials given

I know this has been very irresponsible from me and I am accountable. On the other hand, From 2014-2017 I was dealing with major depression & anxiety.

I have applied to three community colleges in my area (PA) but because I’ve been into different institutions in a short amount of time the financial aid offices are asking for all my past school’s transcripts to provide me with federal aid, otherwise they won’t award any aid.

Problem is I contacted the Department of Education and there is no problem or hold, the investigation with my FAFSA with these schools affirmed the opposite. Unfortunately, I can’t get my transcripts from the institutions I owe. What options I have?

Daena

Answer:

Dear Daena,

Thank you so much for also sending in an image of the letter you received from the school.

Part of it is shown below.

I think there are two issues here.

The first is the resulting debt created as a byproduct of the life issues you were struggling with at the time. The depression and anxiety are understandable but unless you are totally and permanently disabled as a result of it, there is no allowance given for those struggles.

The second is that a school can withhold a transcript if money is owed. The transcript is the collateral the school has to encourage people to pay what they owe.

However, upon a closer reading of the letter, it says “you must obtain an academic transcript (official or unofficial or a grade report).”

READ  Why Can My College Keep My Transcript Hostage? - Kimberly

A grade report is not a transcript. It is essentially a report card. If you have a record of the grades you received in the classes you attended, that should do the trick. Grade reports are also available to be printed online through the school portal. If the schools you attended allowed you to have online access to your account, check there. In most cases, people are able to print off a grade report by semester through the online portal.

The request for more information is not in an effort to transfer credits but to determine if you attended classes, completed them, and received a grade. That is a much more relaxed standard than getting an official transcript.

I don’t think this issue is as complicated as it might first appear. They are not saying you can’t get additional aid but that they need some information to fill in boxes to process your application.

Just make sure you are in a good place to pursue your education. As you’ve learned, starting and stopping leaves you with debt and no degree. Without the degree, all you have is more debt. You should also evaluate if going to school, and the resulting debt, is going to make sense for the degree you wish to obtain.

The important questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Do I honestly think I will be able to manage the struggles of life over a long period of time in order to complete my degree?
  2. Is the field I wish to get my degree in going to significantly increase my income to make the cost of the degree a reasonable investment?
  3. Is there a vocational field that might be more interesting to me that requires specialized education but not a college degree?

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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.

One Comment

  1. Daena

    October 9, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Question asked.

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