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)