Transcript prices double to accommodate rising costs

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Transcript prices doubled from $10 to $20 on Sept. 12, increasing for the first time in 15 years. 

Joey Williams, interim communications director of the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, said the price increase is necessary to meet the demands of students. Currently, all transcript orders are filled within 24 hours, at a volume of over 100,000 transcripts per year, Williams said.

Some students have taken their frustrations to the internet. An online petition protesting the increase obtained over 3,200 supporters within eight hours of being posted.

The petition listed several complaints, including the lower prices of transcripts at other institutions of higher education. Even if the per-unit costs of transcripts at other institutions may be lower, those expenses are recovered through tuition or a one-time fee at matriculation or elsewhere, according to officials with the Vice Provost and Registrar Office.

Business honors sophomore David Contreras, who bought a transcript yesterday at the new price, said he is upset by the University’s lack of concern for how the increase affects students who are struggling financially. Contreras said the University should consider an alternative option for students who demonstrate need.

“A lot of times, for the transcript, you’re applying to … get scholarships,” Contreras said. “The fact that you have to spend money just to be able to apply to get these funds is kind of ridiculous. I feel that UT, by doing this, are not really recognizing that it’s a privilege to be able to go out and buy these transcripts, and for some people, it can really negatively affect them for their week or month financially.”

Shelby Stanfield, vice provost and University registrar, said the proceeds from transcript fees mainly cover the cost of keeping the office staffed and maintaining the technological components of the academic records system.

“The revenue from the transcripts use a cost-recovery mechanism that goes into recovering the costs associated with managing the academic record and then producing the transcript,” Stanfield said. “Those costs rise over time, predominantly in staff and in technology. As the cost … increases, the revenue recovery mechanism has to keep pace with that.”

Students can obtain physical copies of transcripts or send transcripts electronically to other institutions, and this option comes with the cost of maintaining sophisticated technology and hiring IT staff, Stanfield said.

Many students don’t need to purchase official transcripts because a majority of the information they provide is available for free through online degree audits and academic summaries, which are available at the Office of the Registrar, Williams said.

Williams said the fee stayed at $10 for so long out of concern for maintaining affordability for students.

“We haven’t changed this fee in 15 years because we don’t take this lightly at all,” Williams said.

The Office of the Registrar corresponded with the Senate of College Councils to determine how the need for funding should be addressed, Senate of College Councils President Sergio Cavazos said. Potential solutions included charging for academic summaries, a mandatory baseline fee for all students and extending the turnaround time on transcript orders from 24 hours to 72 hours.

Cavazos said the $10 increase seemed like the most ideal option under the circumstances, since it avoids compromising on service or charging students who will never purchase a transcript during their time at the University.

Students who would like to ask questions or offer input directly to the Office of the Registrar may attend the Campus Conversations meeting hosted by SCC at 6 p.m. on Oct. 10 in UTC 1.130.