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University Not Processing Degree Completion

Discussion in 'Education Law, School System' started by dheavennn, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. dheavennn

    dheavennn Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Summary: I graduated from my college in December 2019. I was approved to graduate by my department's advisement and was allowed to walk at my graduation in December. Graduation should've been processed, it should reflect on my transcripts that I completed my degree, and I should've already received my diploma by the end of February. It is June and it is still not done. Would I have any grounds to seek legal action if I am not given formal evidence of my degree completion?

    Full Story: I graduated from a state university in New Mexico in December of 2019. I received approval to graduate from both the psychology and biology departments (dual Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Biology) and I walked at graduation in December. I was told by advisement at the time that it could take 6-8 weeks for my graduation to be processed so that it reflects on my transcripts that I did complete my degree programs and my diploma should've been delivered after that. I wasn't thrilled about that as I wanted to jump into the job market as soon as I could, but I understand these things take time especially considering that I didn't even take my last final until the day before I graduated. But I passed all of my classes in my final semester, completed all of my degree requirements, and never got into any disciplinary trouble during my college career. So I should've been fine, right?

    Mid-February rolls around (this would've been just after the eight week mark) and it's still showing my degree status as pending on my unofficial transcripts online and I hadn't received my diploma. I call the registrar's office and ask about it, they tell me that they are a bit behind schedule and that it could be March before everything is processed. At no point was I told that there was anything wrong. I accepted this answer at the time because another friend also hadn't had her graduation processed nor had received her diploma.

    First week in March rolls around and that same friend tells me that her graduation had been processed and she had received her degree after some catching up. I check on my own status after she says this and it's still pending and no diploma has come in the mail. I call again and am given the news that I am actually slated to graduate in May of 2020. I am extremely displeased to hear this as I know I fulfilled all of my graduation requirements, but I patiently explain my situation on the phone and they transfer me to the Arts & Sciences department so I can talk to them. I explain what happened, they pull up my unofficial transcripts, and agree that I did fulfill all of my requirements. They tell me this was an administrative error of some kind. They put me in touch with the appropriate dean for my departments. I again explain what happened and tell him about my previous conversations. He agrees that I did fulfill my degree requirements, but tells me this won't be a quick fix and to expect everything to be resolved in April. He agrees to write me a letter proving my graduation status and profusely apologizes. I still have this letter as it is the only evidence I have of my degree completion. I know this is better than nothing, but I also recognize that a potential employer would maybe not choose to accept this as evidence of my degree completion.

    Toward the end of March, the entire state of NM is shut down due to covid-19 and the offices are closed for three weeks. The offices did reopen though sometime in mid-April to accept phone calls and I was told that the staff for the registrar's office was still working from home one of the times I called. I ultimately decided to wait this out as the job market was drying up due to the ongoing pandemic situation anyway.

    Present day, I am catching up with a friend who graduated in May with a biology degree. He informed me that the university was stating that his degree completion was due to be processed by the end of July. I know the offices are open again, so I call the registrar's office again. My graduation has now apparently been pushed back to July with degree completion processing in September according to the woman I spoke with on the phone. I left a message with Arts & Sciences regarding this situation and am waiting for a call back. Ultimate question being, if my degree completion does not get processed by July (or worse yet, a whole year goes by and it's still not processed), do I have grounds to pursue this legally?
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Sure. Then you can count on the courts taking even longer to resolve the issue than it's going to take to resolve it with the school. And you can bet that the courts aren't going to punish anybody for getting things wrong during the crisis.

    You are just one more victim of the Covid19 virus and like all the other victims who didn't actually catch the disease, you are going to have to wait patiently until we all come out the other side of this crisis.

    No reason you couldn't have entered the job market in December. Presumably you kept all your grade reports and other records of your scholastic career plus your knowledge that could have convinced some prospective employers that you completed the degree program.
     
  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Maybe. The college's obligation to you would arise out of the contract you had with the college. So the details of that contract matter a great deal. It may also matter whether this was a public (government owned) college or a private one. Even if there is a breach of contract by the college here, there are issues of what damages you have that you could pursue out of this. If the college doesn't get your degree fixed in a reasonable time after the covid-19 restrictions are eased then you might want to consult a civil litigation attorney to see if you've got something worthwhile to go after and what it will cost you to do it.
     

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