Former Ohio Valley University students come together to find answers on transcripts issue

WTAP News @ 11 - Former Ohio Valley University students come together to find answers on transcripts issue
Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 7:46 PM EDT
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VIENNA, W.Va. (WTAP) - “Someone has to hear all these hundreds of voices begging for help,” says Ohio Valley University 2019 graduate, Sydnee Shipley. “And we’re not going to be quiet until we have answers.”

Many former students have found it hard to get their official transcripts from Ohio Valley University since it shut down at the end of the 2022 school year.

However, many graduates of the college, like Gregory Watkins say that this was a problem even before the school shut down. He said he had to jump through many hoops to get his.

“They tried to charge me 25 dollars to get it. Then they ended up adding all of these extra charges onto me that I had never had before. And then, on top of that, when I tried to get it even after I got my diploma, they tried to tell me that I still have five credits left to get my transcript,” says Watkins. “And then, basically, I threatened that I was going to file a lawsuit. And then, magically, once I threaten that they have my transcript ready. And they said, ‘Oh, we made a mistake. You don’t have five credits left and then just gave it to me.”

OVU 2019 graduate, Sydnee Shipley says that she was “one of the lucky ones” that got her transcript without any problems. She says that was not the case for her husband.

“We finally get a letter from them of a bill for a little over $4 thousand. It’s not itemized or anything,” says Shipley. “Tried contacting them and it’s like, ‘Why do we have a bill?’ Everything was paid either through Sallie Mae loans or through our parents. He doesn’t owe any money to the school. Why do we have a bill for $4 thousand? To this day, have not heard anything back from the school.”

Not being able to get an official transcript has been affecting former students’ ability to apply for a master’s program, get a job or join the military.

“I have friends who want to get in the Army that can’t get into the Army. I have a friend who has actually been trying to graduate since 2013. And every time he has gone, they’ve tried to charge him more money. They told him that at first that he owed them two credits, he did the two credits and then they said that he had to do another twelve,” says Watkins.

Some former students are only able to get a letter that says that they went to the school because they cannot get an official transcript.

“So, that is very standard practice. And so, why they think that they can send a letter in saying, ‘Oh yeah, they went to school here.’ I don’t understand. I don’t get that,” says Shipley.

Hundreds of students are coming together to get answers.

“Again, this all boils down to fraud,” says Shipley. “We paid $80 thousand for this degree and piece of paper stating that I have this degree, I paid you this money now you can’t hold up your end of the deal. This is causing people from not being able to get a job, go to school, join the military; all this stuff. And people need to be held accountable.”

They are reaching out to police, the West Virginia attorney general’s office and West Virginia’s governor for help.

“Everybody just wants what they worked for. It’s simple. So, if we can get that, everybody will be more than happy for it,” says Watkins.

In a statement from the W.Va. Higher Education Policy Commission, the department says, “OVU was a private institution that operated in the state of West Virginia and was entirely and independently responsible for protecting student records.”

We have the full statement available on our website.