College Related

University of Oklahoma is Preventing Me From Getting Into Law School

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Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

I’m applying to law school in California, and need my undergrad transcripts to finish my application.

I graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and last January I enrolled in a Masters of Legal studies program. I had applied for VA benefits, and the funding didn’t get approved until this month (November).

They put me in the classes after the add/drop date. Since the funding never came through, I didn’t start the classes or buy any books, because I was counting on the VA funding.

OU has billed me $4,800, so today I called the collections department and explained I have a deadline for this law school application.

They said they would not release my transcripts until the balance was paid. I applied for a retroactive withdrawal, but it said online that it could take up to 3 weeks.

My deadline is next Friday. Is there anything I can do? I did email the law school a scanned copy I have, but that’s not “official”. Honestly, I can’t afford to miss the spring semester, since I’ve planned to make this my job. Any advice or suggestions are welcome. Thanks

CJ

Answer:

Dear CJ,

Well.

This is all just my personal opinion. But the way I like to look at these situations is first to try and understand what the rules and policies are and then attempt to negotiate a possible mutually agreeable solution from there.

It looks like the University of Oklahoma (Go Sooners) withdrawal policy says, ” If the student withdraws after the deadline, the student will be charged full tuition rates.” – Source

Additionally, “Changes in schedules during the first ten days of classes in Fall and Spring semesters, first five days of classes in Summer Session will result in full charges for courses added and full refund for courses dropped. No refunds for dropped courses will be made after this time.” – Source

I think this is going to come down to if you were enrolled in the classes. The fact you didn’t attend or buy books is not material. I’ve seen students enroll and never go but feel that since they did not attend they should not be charged. The school position is that it was a seat that could have been purchased by another so it is lost income.

You have to view this from the school’s point of view. You are not a student. You are a revenue seat like on an airplane. A sold seat that doesn’t have a butt in it is still a sold seat. If you don’t get on your flight you don’t get a refund. However, if you change or cancel your flight before you can’t then you are entitled to a refund.

It seems to me that your best bet is if you have documentation that the school knew your enrollment was contingent on the VA funding and they enrolled you anyways. These things can happen where a school employee will think they are helping but inadvertently put the student in a bad spot. But documentation of these situations is critical.

If you had an email or correspondence that said something like “let’s get you enrolled and moving forward while you await your funding” that would be awesome.

You could also try to resolve this in reverse with the VA and allow the funding to be used for the previous classes.

Ironically, this is all going to come down to the student contractual agreement and the VA funding rules. Just like the law.

A negotiated solution is still possible but there is no guarantee it will all happen by your rapidly approaching deadline.

The University of Oklahoma does have this awesome page that lists contact information for the multiple people who might be responsible for your hold so you can reach the right person swiftly.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

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.

4 Comments

  • Here’s an idea. I used a version of it when I was in my last semester of law school and the school was preventing me from taking my final exams to graduate and receive my JD, an incredibly difficult situation, especially since I had just struggled through three years of law school without any kind of help from my family or financial aid from the school. My balance was about $6,000. And my law school insisted that I pay it before taking finals, giving me this added burden during the very time period I was actually preparing for finals.
    To make a long and arduous story simple, I finally convinced the school to agree to let me take finals if I signed a promissory note with a due date one year after I graduated, presumably at which time I would have found employment and be in a position to make good on the note. It seems to me the that if you talk to a supervisor at your college’s Bursar’s Office and explain how one of their graduates is about to enter law school, and how that would be a good thing to report in their alumni bulletin, etc., and given the fact that a lawyer who started his education at the University of Oaklahoma who might one day return as a major or even medium level alumini donor in the future, a primsosory note is the best resolution for both parties The school gets a promise of payment in writing, easily enforceable in Court, you get your transcript on time, and maybe each of your get to brag about an U of Oklahoma grad who became a lawyer in a few years. Just because you don’t have the money now, does not mean you will not have it in the reasonable near future. And $4,500 or so dollars should not prevent you from having or delaying the path towards a professional career. A promissory note in favor of the University is the answer, assuming that you can agree that you owe it. If you do not actually owe it or all of it, this may not be the solution. This has to be determined by you. it Finally, I can suggest one further step that will likely require a brief visit to an attorney. Offer the school a “confession of judgment” along with the promissory note. The “confession of judgment” will allow the University to get a judgment in Court very quickly in the event you don’t pay on time. A “confession of judgment” reduces the time to get a judgment against you in Court to about 30 days or maybe less, depending on the jurisdiction where you live.
    So, again, find out who the person is in the Bursar Office who can make decisions, because you will get nowhere with the day to day clerks of course. make your pitch, offer to enter into a writing and I can’t see them denying this request. Jerome Lee, Esq. (Credit Defense Attorney-New York City & State)

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