It’s an all-too-common occurrence. You thought you knew exactly which drawer you left it in or where Mom packed it after graduation, but it’s nowhere to be found: You lost your college diploma! How and why does this seem to happen so often to university alums? The main problem is that most people don’t stop to think about how much that delicate piece of paper is actually worth. If not safeguarded in a UV-protective, archival-quality frame soon after receiving it, the chances of damaging or misplacing your college diploma are pretty high.
How Much Is Your Diploma Worth?
Have you really thought about how much you’ve personally invested in your college education? Not just in terms of the tens of thousands of dollars you’ve paid (or that you owe in student loans) but the countless hours spent studying, the years of family sacrifice, and the blood, sweat, and tears that went into earning every grade. When you consider the true cost of your education, you’ll quickly realize something extraordinary about that slip of paper you received at graduation—it’s absolutely priceless!
Show Your College Degree Some Love
It bears repeating: Your college diploma is one of the most valuable documents you’ll ever own! It’s why you should preserve it and protect it as soon as you receive it in the mail. Important paper documents like college degrees, professional certificates, and university awards can easily get lost in an apartment or office move or destroyed by mold, flooding, or a fire in your home.
Probably the most common reason people need to replace their university diplomas is due to carelessness and improper storage. Most students don’t realize that leaving their degree in its original envelope, cardboard tube, or plastic diploma holder can cause irreversible damage. Over time, the acids in these storage holders will eat away at the cellulose in your diploma, causing the delicate paper to yellow, become brittle, and eventually crack. That’s why storing your degree safely within museum-quality matting, backing, and mounting materials that meet the Library of Congress’ stringent guidelines for document preservation is key!
Tips for Ordering a New Diploma
No matter when or how you lost your bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D., you should take steps to obtain a replacement as soon as possible. But how do you replace a lost college diploma? Just follow these simple steps for success.
Contact the Office of the Registrar at the college or university you attended.
The registrar’s office is responsible for maintaining student records and transcripts, keeping track of class schedules, and registering students for classes. One of their primary responsibilities is fulfilling all requests for diploma copies and replacements. To get in touch with the Office of the Registrar at your alma mater, search for their contact information on your school’s web page or call the school’s main phone number to be transferred to their department.
No one else can request a new diploma for you.
Since the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was passed in 1974, student records are protected and kept private. Family members or spouses are not permitted access to your student records; you are the only person who can officially request your academic information. However, if you’re looking to replace the diploma of a deceased alumna or alumnus, you are able to do so if you are the next of kin or the executor of the former student’s estate. Although the specific requirements will vary according to the university, you’ll most likely need to submit a written request with a photocopy of your driver’s license or passport, proof of your relationship to the deceased (such as your birth certificate or mention of your name in the obituary), the student’s death certificate, and a notarized copy of the Letter of Appointment of Executor or Power of Attorney.
Expect to pay a fee.
Although every college and university has its own set of rules, you’ll most likely need to pay a fee to obtain a replacement. The fee for a new diploma can range anywhere from $25 to $150, depending on the school and the type of degree you’re replacing.
Only mailed, written requests will be processed.
Since most schools are FERPA compliant, a written request is required when inquiring about a replacement. This process eliminates fraud and identity theft. You can find online applications for replacement diplomas on the Office of the Registrar page of most school websites. This is typically a PDF that can be printed from your computer, filled out by hand, and then mailed to your alma mater’s registrar. A typical written request may include:
- Reason for replacement diploma
- Birth date
- Social Security number
- Name of college or university
- Graduation date
- Degree(s) earned
- Current mailing address
- A notarized sworn statement proving the diploma has been lost
Find out if you need a notary.
Its written request requirements might be more inclusive or exclusive than the above requirements. You’ll most likely need to have your application request form or some of your documents notarized. Very often you can schedule an appointment with a notary public at a UPS store. Check online to find a local UPS store offering licensed notary public services.
Expect the process to take some time.
On average, it should take anywhere from four to six weeks, although some schools may take up to ten weeks to send out your new diploma.
Signatures may be different on your new diploma.
If you graduated several years ago, your replacement degree will indicate the year that you graduated but may bear the signatures of the school’s current faculty members.
Protecting Your Diploma
Once you track down your replacement diploma, don’t take any chances—frame it right away! A professional frame will not only guard against incidental damage but will also allow you to proudly showcase your academic achievement in your home or office! Housed in a protective frame, you’re also less likely to misplace your diploma during a move or while your items are being held in a storage facility.
You’ve taken the time to get your records in order, track down a notary public, and pay for a copy of your treasured diploma, so be sure to give it some much-needed TLC! Don’t take risks with cheap hobby store frames that will cause your valuable document to yellow, fade, and disintegrate over time. Instead, showcase your degree with pride in a premium, archival-quality frame that will protect it for years to come. Church Hill Classics offers a beautiful selection of handcrafted diploma frames featuring official school names, university seals and logos, and a variety of customizable features.
Lucie Voves is the Founder and CEO of Church Hill Classics/diplomaframe.com, a certified woman-owned business.