Bankruptcy can be a way of obtaining college transcripts that are withheld for nonpayment of tuition or loans. The filing of a bankruptcy petition creates an “automatic stay” that prevents any effort by a creditor to collect on a debt. The great majority of courts that have ruled on the issue have held that the withholding of a college transcript on account of an unpaid debt constitutes an attempt to coerce payment of the debt and is therefore in violation of the bankruptcy stay. The Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota ruled this way in the matter ofre Lanford, 10 B.R. 132 (Bankr.D.Minn.1981) At least two U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have also ruled this way, In re Merchant, 958 F.2d 738 (6th Cir. 1992); In re Gustafson, 111 B.R. 282 (Bankr. 9th Cir. 1990), rev’d on other grounds 934 F.2d 216 (9th Cir. 1990). As a result, it is very likely that your former school will release your transcripts voluntarily after your file a bankruptcy petition. If the school refuses to release the transcripts and the court finds that the school has violated the bankruptcy stay, the school can be sued for actual and punitive damages, including attorney’s fee and costs.
Tuition debt in most cases is not discharged (eliminated) in bankruptcy, so ultimately you may still have to pay the tuition debt. However, if you have other debts problems that bankruptcy can resolve, the release of your college transcripts may be one more reason to consider filing for bankruptcy protection.
For more information regarding your specific situation, contact Minnesota Bankruptcy Attorney Gregory J. Wald at 952-921-5802 or at BankruptcyMinn.com for a consultation.