University News

Registrar could provide official transcripts online

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mark Sabbagh ’12 was shocked when he found out he would have to pay for his official transcript. When he applied this summer to medical school programs, he had to pay $6.25 to send an official transcript to each school, on top of an already expensive application process.

Official transcripts from the Office of the Registrar are only available in paper form and are not released without payment. Whether a student is applying to a graduate program, an international study abroad program or a job, transcripts costs $4 with a $2.25 processing fee for each recipient, even if the transcript is issued directly to the student.

“We have students occasionally unhappy about it,” said Lisa Mather, associate registrar for enrollment services.

Though official transcripts are currently issued in hard copy, the registrar’s office hopes to launch an electronic transcript service by the spring, said University Registrar Robert Fitzgerald. Many companies, such as Google, want applicants to provide official electronic transcripts sent directly by their schools, he said, rather than through intermediaries like the CareerLAB.

 The $4 fee was set by the Corporation in 1971, Fitzgerald said. The price tag covers auxiliary costs including the watermark, security paper and postage, he said.

Fitzgerald said the additional $2.25 processing fee was introduced in 2007 when the registrar’s office paired up with National Student Clearinghouse, a third-party student degree verification service.

The registrar’s office sends around 20,000 to 25,000 official transcripts out each year, said Fitzgerald, adding that this pool is not limited to transcripts of graduating seniors. Students can obtain transcripts by paying through the registrar’s website or in person at the registrar’s office.

Though students can view and print out unofficial transcripts from Banner, the official transcript contains the University seal and the registrar’s signature. Official transcripts do not show classes that students dropped or failed, making them a more attractive option even if applications only require unofficial transcripts.

Students lose the ability to access their Banner pages three months after graduating, Fitzgerald said.

The registrar requires three to five business days ­— or five to 10 days at the end of semesters — to process requests for official transcripts.

“I don’t understand why it takes time,” Sabbagh said, adding that it took him four or five days to get his transcript.

 “At UNC-Chapel Hill, where I spent my first two years of college, I could go to the registrar’s office and get an official transcript printed out and handed to me in less than five minutes,” wrote Suzanne Michalak ’12 in an email to The Herald.

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