My name is Richard Tucker, and I am a college student looking for assistance. I am trying to put my life back on track after a 10-year setback. I have been able to graduate from a small community college with three Associates degrees -- one in Agriculture Business & Management, one in Computer Systems Specialist, and one in General Education Studies. I am attempting to acquire my Bachelor’s degree in Information System and Applied Technology (IST) with a focus on Cybersecurity. I have worked very hard to get to where I am; however, I have hit a stumbling block and I am asking for any assistance that you might be able to provide.
I enrolled in Arkansas Tech University (ATU) in spring of 1999 with the hope of getting my degree at that time. However, after learning that I had a baby on the way, I was forced to withdraw from classes in order to take care of my family. I sent a letter to the university withdrawing my enrollment prior to the first day of classes. In fall of 2011, I finally had the chance to go back to college. I contacted ATU and requested a copy of my transcript, so that I could attend a local community college in the state of Illinois, where I now live. ATU sent a copy of my transcript without any problem. After successfully graduating from community college just a couple of weeks ago, I again contacted ATU to get a second copy of my transcript so that I could go on and complete my Bachelor’s degree at another local university. The registrar was very polite, and processed my request. However, what I received in the mail a week later wasn’t an official transcript but a letter denying issuance of a transcript due to a past debt for classes. I contacted the school immediately and was informed that I owed a $2,429.92 bill for classes that I both withdrew from and had never attended. I have spoken on the phone to several officials at the school, and sent emails to the president of ATU and other various faculty for help, but they rudely refused. I have even had staff at the university I am now trying to attend call ATU on my behalf, and they were met with equal resistance and rudeness.
Arkansas Tech University’s claim is that they never received my letter withdrawing from classes in spring of 1999. But I have never once received any notification that there was a balance, I have never had a collections call from anyone regarding such a debt, and I was able to obtain my transcript in 2011 from them without incident. This appears to be a grave error on the part of ATU, yet I am being forced to pay for it. A job in my particular field requires a Bachelor’s degree, but I can’t enroll in a baccalaureate program without the transcript. Federal policy mandates that admissions must receive a transcript from any school the admitting student was ever enrolled, so I must have it in order to be admitted at any university. While I never attended classes at ATU and do not feel that I owe this debt, I would be willing to pay it just to further my education.
I am not asking for a hand out, but rather a hand up in this situation. Once I receive my Bachelor’s degree, it is my goal to pay forward any assistance that I have been given to another student that is struggling to attend a college or university.
Any assistance that you might be able to provide is greatly appreciated and would be a true blessing to me. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.