SGA members stand against transcript fees

Students and graduates of Northern Kentucky University may have to start paying a $10 fee to get copies of their official transcripts if the registrar moves forward on a plan to use an online, automated clearinghouse to process official transcript requests.

Registrar Michele R. Hall presented a proposed fee for transcripts at the April 4 Student Government Association meeting. The Office of the Registrar has not yet established the amount of the fee, but Hall said the NKU administration is discussing a price of $10 per transcript, and $15 for a rush order.

Hall said the registrar’s office has been absorbing the costs of creating and printing transcripts, and it’s an expense they “simply cannot afford” anymore. She said the largest cost is time spent preparing transcripts, but they also must pay for printing, envelopes, stamps and overnight shipping on rush orders.

According to Hall’s presentation, the rush fee would be higher than all other Kentucky universities. Murray State University has the lowest fee at $3 per order, and $5 for a rush. Kentucky State University has the highest rate, at $10 for an order, and $10 for a rush.

Hall met opposition from several members of SGA.

Student Rights Committee chair Paul Bell held up a stack of papers and said he visited the registrar’s office Monday to get some transcripts. He said he got 10 transcripts printed off in about 10 minutes, something that would cost him $100 if the new fee goes into effect.

Right now, students and graduates can request a free transcript online through Norse Express and MyNKU, by fax or in person at the Office of the Registrar.

Under the proposed fee, even if someone visited the registrar’s office in person, they would be directed to complete the online form, pay the transcript fee and then they would receive a printed transcript, Hall said.

When the university switched to MyNKU from Norse Express, any student who graduated before fall 2009 did not receive a MyNKU account. They can still order transcripts online through Norse Express, but their degree audit is not automated.

Instead, the registrar’s office must hand-check the official transcript, and Hall said that could mean weeks of waiting.

Under the current plan, there is no way for any students to check the status of their official transcript online, but people will be able to check the status of their order online with the new system.

Despite the new system offering an easier way for students to track their transcripts, Senator Josh Moermond said he didn’t see the value in it for current students because they would have to pay the fee for every request. He said the new system and accompanying fee was a better benefit for past students who do not have access to MyNKU.

Several senators asked if there were any alternative solutions to using the clearinghouse to process transcript requests; but Hall explained that NKU would have to develop the technology from the ground up, and that would drive up costs.

Hall said the registrar’s office handles anywhere from 20 to 80 transcripts a week, with heavier traffic around graduation dates. She said they still get requests from about 50 graduates a week whose records are not in MyNKU and must have their transcript hand-checked.

Story by Cassie Stone