Steps to Take if You're Dealing With a Lost College Diploma

Life happens and in-between all of its best and worst moments, important paperwork may go awry. This could be anything -- your passport, a professional award, certificates, or a college diploma. 

Maybe you just misplaced it or it was destroyed by a flood, fire, or mold. Whatever the case, a lost college diploma is not the end of the world. But, you should take immediate steps to replace it once you notice it's lost or damaged. 

Here's how to tackle the replacement process...

How to Replace a Lost College Diploma: Breaking Down the Process

The truth is, the longer you wait to replace a lost college diploma, the harder it could be to replace it. As soon as you notice it's missing or suffered irreparable damage, here's what to do.

1. Reach Out to the Registrar Office 

Whether it's a lost diploma or degree, you'll need to make contact with the registrar's office at the college or university you attended. Only the registrar keeps a record of all important documentation and transcripts.

These records are updated with all newly registered students and their classes each year. So you can imagine how much paperwork this office stores. 

This being said, the registrar's office should still have a record of your studies and proof of graduation. You just have to submit a request for a replacement, and from there you will be guided in the right direction.  

2. Submit a Written Replacement Order 

Yes, this is a formal process and must be treated as such. Most colleges or universities will only accept a written request for a diploma or degree replacement.

Along with this, you'll also need to submit a copy of your driver's license, passport, or birth certificate as well as a notarized copy of the letter. 

Your replacement diploma will most likely be shipped to you, so you'll need to cover that fee. There's also a fee associated with re-issuing a replacement diploma, but this varies from college-to-college. Generally, this fee can range from $25-$150, depending on the institution and type of diploma or degree. 

Find out how much you need to pay before you send in your formal written request, first. You can simply call the registrar's office and inquire about costs. 

3. Only You Can Request a Replacement Diploma 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which was passed in 1974, protects the privacy of all student records. This means that only you can formally request a replacement diploma. 

Unfortunately, family members and spouses will not be offered access to your personal information due to the above act. However, there are a few exceptions. 

If you are looking to replace the diploma of a deceased former student, only a next-of-kin or executor of their estate can submit a formal written request. Specific requirements may vary from one college to the next. But for example, you'll need proof of your relationship with the deceased, a copy of their death certificate, etc. 

4. Only Mailed Requests are Accepted to Avoid Identify Theft 

Why is the process so formal anyway? This is because most colleges, universities, and schools are registered with FERPA. They have to follow certain standards and regulations when sharing student information. 

This is why only a written request that's mailed to your college will be accepted. It also helps to rule out cases of identity theft and fraud.

This may sound complicated, but it's actually quite simple. You can find online applications for replacement diplomas on most college websites.

Simply print it, fill it out by hand, then mail it to your alma mater's registrar office.  Bear in mind that each alma mater may have its own specific replacement process. It's best to find out what it is beforehand so that you don't waste your time (and money) by submitting an irrelevant replacement application. 

If you are required to submit notarized documents as part of your application, you can schedule an appointment with a notary public at your local UPS store. 

5. The Replacement Process Takes Time 

Due to the high-volume of paperwork and data the registrar's office will have to sort through, the replacement of your diploma takes a fair bit of time. Generally, you're looking at a time-frame of 4-6 weeks. But it can take up to 10 weeks depending on the year you graduated. 

What's also important to bear in mind is that your replacement diploma may display the year you graduated, but will bear the signatures of current faculty members. 

Keep Your Diploma in Tip-Top Condition 

Once you have your replacement diploma in your hands, take the time to store or preserve it carefully! One of the best ways to maintain its longevity is by framing it. 

A sturdy, professional frame will protect it from accidental damage, oxidation, moisture, and mold. It also allows you to show off your achievements! Once it's framed, you're also less likely to misplace it during a home move. 

Cheap, craft store frames won't cut it either. Over time, your diploma is likely to fade and change yellow in color. Go for a premium quality, archive-style frame that will stand up to the elements and all of life's ups and downs. 

Looking For a Replacement Diploma in a Hurry?

At Same Day Diplomas, we are the helping hand you need in the case of a lost college diploma, university degree, transcripts, certificates, and more. 

If you just can't wait 6-8 weeks for a replacement diploma, be sure to enlist the services of Same Day Diplomas! Check out our range of samples here.

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