Prior to 2010, schools were only obligated to maintain records for five years (for certificate and non-degree granting programs) or 50 years if the school granted degrees. Currently, all schools are obligated to maintain transcript records indefinitely. If you've graduated with a nursing degree in the last 60 years, or within the last 10 years, you should be able to access your transcripts even if your school no longer exists. In the sections below, we'll go over everything you'll need to know and what steps you'll need to take in order to access them.

RELATED: Considering & Choosing a Nursing School

Understanding the Challenge

When a nursing school shuts down, it can create significant obstacles for former students seeking their academic records. The closure may be due to various reasons such as financial issues, accreditation problems, or changes in educational policies. Regardless of the cause, the closure leaves students in a predicament, especially if they require transcripts for licensure, continuing education, or transferring credits to another institution.

Initial Steps to Take

  1. Contact the School: The first step is to attempt to reach out to the closed nursing school directly. Although the institution has ceased operations, there might still be staff or administrators responsible for managing academic records or handling inquiries from former students. Utilize any contact information available, such as phone numbers or email addresses, to inquire about the process for obtaining transcripts.
  2. Check for Transfer of Records: In some cases, when a school closes, its academic records are transferred to another institution or educational authority for safekeeping. Research whether the nursing school you attended made arrangements for the transfer of student records. This information might be available on the school’s website, through local education boards, or by contacting relevant regulatory bodies.
  3. Contact Accrediting Agencies: Accrediting agencies oversee educational institutions and maintain records related to accreditation status, including student transcripts. Reach out to the accrediting agency responsible for the closed nursing school to inquire about transcript retrieval procedures. They may be able to provide guidance or direct you to resources for obtaining your academic records.

Utilizing Third-Party Services

  • National Student Clearinghouse: The National Student Clearinghouse is a nonprofit organization that specializes in educational verification and transcript services. While not all closed schools are affiliated with the Clearinghouse, it’s worth checking their database to see if your nursing school’s records are available through their service. If the school participated in the Clearinghouse program, you may be able to request transcripts online.
  • State Education Agencies: State education agencies may maintain records for closed educational institutions within their jurisdiction. Contact the education department or board of nursing in the state where the nursing school was located to inquire about transcript retrieval options. They may have procedures in place for obtaining academic records from defunct schools or can provide guidance on alternative solutions.

Legal and Regulatory Options

  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): In cases where traditional avenues for obtaining transcripts are exhausted, individuals may explore legal options such as filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA allows individuals to request access to certain records held by federal agencies or federally-funded institutions. While FOIA primarily applies to government entities, some closed schools may have received federal funding, making them subject to FOIA requests.
  • Consult Legal Counsel: If all other attempts to obtain transcripts have been unsuccessful, seeking legal counsel may be necessary. An attorney experienced in education law can assess your situation, advise you on your rights, and represent your interests in pursuing access to your academic records. Legal action may be required to compel the release of transcripts from a closed nursing school, particularly if there are legal disputes or concerns surrounding the handling of student records.