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No payment, no diploma

Q: I recently applied for a job and listed my education as having a bachelor’s 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 Bursar’s 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.

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