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Articles / Applying to College / Will Debt to One College Keep Student Out of Another?

March 2, 2012

Will Debt to One College Keep Student Out of Another?

Question: Can you enroll at a different college if you owe another community college money?

If you are signing up to take just one class (or maybe even two) at the new college, then it's very possible that you won't be asked about your debt to the other.


But if you are trying to get into a "degree program” so that you can actually graduate from the second college, then it's likely that you will have to list every other college you've ever attended and also provide a transcript from these schools.

Colleges typically do not release transcripts if a student still owes money. So this will probably prohibit you from earning a degree elsewhere.

What you may be able to do, however, is to work out a payment plan with your old school which will allow your transcript to be released, even if you haven't paid in full yet.

I know that it may be tempting to apply to the new place by pretending that it’s your first time in college, so you wouldn’t be given any credit for classes you took at your old school, but your debt wouldn’t haunt you either. However, that’s a very bad plan. If the new college were to find out that you’d been dishonest about your past college enrollment, they might expel you, perhaps even days before graduation.

So honesty is the best policy, as it is in most things in life (though maybe not all ;) ), even if you have to dig yourself out of a financial hole in order to return to school.

(posted 3/2/2012)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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