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What to Do If You Lost Your College Diploma

Improper storage, an accident or plain negligence. No matter what’s true in your case, you do have options for getting a replacement as soon as possible.

Get in touch with the Office of the Registrar at your university or college.

As you may know, one of the responsibilities of any school registrar is maintaining student records and transcripts. Part of this task is handling requests for diploma replacement. But do keep in mind there is no other person who will be able to do that but you.

Since 1974, a law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has been protecting the privacy of student records in all schools in America. Even your spouse and other family members are not given access to your academic records. There are no other options really, except when the owner of the credential being requested has passed away and the requester is their next of kin or estate executor. In that case, although the exact requirements will vary from school to school, the requester will likely have to submit a written request, photocopies of the deceased’s death certificate and the requester’s driver’s license or passport, and a Power of Attorney.

Prepare to pay a fee.

Again, while the rules are different for each school, a replacement diploma request will probably come with a fee of about $25 to $150.

You have to mail your request.

Since most schools are FERPA-compliant, you will need to mail your diploma replacement request for it to be processed. Again, there are zero other options, and the purpose is to eliminate identity theft and fraud in general. Schools usually have downloadable replacement diploma applications on their websites. It is usually a PDF that is printable from your computer, and you just fill it out manually, get it notarized and finally snail-mail it to the school’s registrar.

When Your Replacement Diploma Takes Too Long

You may have to wait five to seven weeks, even longer sometimes, to get your replacement diploma. If your need is immediate, however (for example, if you’re applying for a job), you might want to explore other options, one of which is getting a temporary copy.

A substitute or temporary diploma apparently has no official use, but it can satisfy the purpose for which your original diploma is intended. You will find a good number of websites offering options like this, but make sure you do your research before using their services. Losing your original diploma for whatever reason is already a problem. Don’t make it worse by getting scammed.


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