Expensive transcripts pose problems to students looking for opportunities

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Texas A&M University, UT-Dallas and Texas State University are some of the public Texas universities that offer free unofficial transcripts to students. However, UT-Austin is not on this list.

UT charges $20 for both official and unofficial transcripts, which are only offered to students with financial bars on their account. The $20 charge is double the price of many other public universities. Texas A&M, UT-Dallas and University of North Texas offer official transcripts for $10 and unofficial transcripts for free.

Advertising graduate student Mariah Colón received her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M and said the high price of transcripts at UT surprises her and other graduate students.

“Our unofficial transcripts were free, and our official transcripts were $10,” Colón said. “Every graduate student I have talked to in my program has been equally shocked at the cost of transcripts at UT in comparison to their undergraduate universities.”

Government senior Jason Guidangen said there seems to be no clear reason why the price of transcripts is significantly higher at UT than at other public Texas universities.

“Twenty dollars is pretty up there for transcripts from any university nationwide, public or private,” Guidangen said. “What about UT necessitates such a lofty increase? The exorbitant price for transcripts disproportionately affects lower-income students, who have to factor in the cost when budgeting for food, transportation and other necessities.”

Kendall Slagle, communications coordinator for Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, said the fees for transcripts lower the total amount students must pay for enrollment at the University.

“Other institutions may roll similar costs into the tuition or other fees, which means students pay for these services whether they use them or not,” Slagle said. “One way we can keep costs low for all students is by charging for services used only by a portion of students.”

Slagle said the revenue collected from transcript orders covers administrative costs and technology improvements for transcript services.

Lauren Cebulske, international relations and global studies freshman, said the price of transcripts is impractical for students who have to order them continually to maintain scholarships.

“I have to order a transcript every semester in order to keep a scholarship,” Cebulske said. “It’s unrealistic to have to spend money to receive it.”

Instead of free unofficial transcripts, UT offers free printable “academic summaries” listing student coursework and GPA. This document is marked as unofficial by the University and lacks specific information such as University Honors and scholastic status.

Colón said academic summaries are not sufficient because most internship and scholarship applications require actual transcripts.

“There are so many positions that specifically require unofficial transcripts to apply,” Colón said. “New students don’t know how to use ‘academic reports’ when every other university uses unofficial transcripts.”

Guidangen said free academic summaries are useful, but the University should not stop there.

“Ideally, I’d like to see free unofficial transcripts, printed for any student, not just those with bars,” Guidangen said.