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No payment, no diploma

Posted by Pattie Hunt Sinacole  August 27, 2012 07:40 AM

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Q: I recently applied for a job and listed my education as having a bachelorís degree. I completed all the course requirements. I participated in the graduation ceremonies in May, 2012. I received a letter several weeks ago from my college. They are now saying that they will not release my diploma because I have several unpaid parking tickets. I am afraid that this will hurt my chances of landing a job. Have you ever heard of this happening?

A: Colleges and universities may withhold a transcript and/or diploma if there are outstanding debts owed to them by a graduating student. Some examples include unpaid parking tickets, reimbursement for property damage repairs or unreturned items loaned to a student (e.g., library books, CDs, laptops, etc.).

Often colleges and universities will include this information in their student handbook. It is a common practice since it is often the last opportunity that your undergraduate college can collect monies due to them.

If you believe the parking tickets were given to you in error, you probably should have appealed the ticket(s) when you received them. Usually the appeals process and time frame are explained on the ticket.

It sounds like the parking tickets you have received may have been legitimate. If that is the case, it would probably be smart to pay the tickets so you can proceed with your job search. If a prospective employer checked your academic background, your college would likely state that your graduation requirements have not been met and/or are incomplete. This is not the way you want to begin a new position with a new company.

My advice is to contact your college. The Bursarís Office is probably a good place to start. Explain that you need for your transcript and diploma to be released. They will likely accept a credit card for any outstanding financial obligations.

If you are a finalist for a new job where they are likely to check your educational background, you should move quickly. You may be forced to reveal your situation. If this is the case, you should explain that you are in the process of resolving the matter as quickly as possible.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.

Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.