Can a school hold my transcript on an unpaid bill that I haven’t heard or seen anything about in 16 years?

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Can a school hold my transcript on an unpaid bill that I haven’t heard or seen anything about in 16 years?

I am trying to obtain my transcripts from my previous college. I filed the proper paperwork and mailed it in. The school states you get 1 copy for free then $5 for each additional copy. My request was sent back denied and stated I had a fee that I needed to pay before I could get my transcripts. I called them and they are telling me that a bill was sent out in almost 17 years ago, then to collections, then back to the school. Apparently because of no address I never received another bill. I had paid all my college fees and never got a bill from the school or collections not once in all this time.

Asked on August 23, 2011 California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your former school has a policy written or otherwise that it will not issue you a copy of your transcripts unless you pay a bill that supposedly is seventeen years (17) old, that is your former school's perogative.

By analogy, your former school is like a company that you supposedly bought something on credit years ago but did not pay for. You now come back to this company years later desperately wanting some unique item that it only sells but the company refuses to sell you the unique item that you really want until your old bill is paid.

Whether or not this is wrong or right, it is business.

The odd part about your situation is that the old bill that you supposedly owe would be barred if any lawsuit was filed aganst you due to statute of limiatations considerations.

Before you pay the outstanding bill, get a copy of the invoice for what it is for.

Good luck.

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