Can a school withhold your transcripts if...?


Hello to all, so I'm a part of a program and we have been using the exit HESI exam as a form of practice and an indicator as to whether or not we would likely pass boards. I just graduated and in the middle of my last semester received an email from the Dean that because of our low passing scores from the previous semester nursing students. That it would now be necessary to receive a certain score, if not met, our transcripts would be withheld even after graduation. I checked our nursing handbook and it does not state that this is part of our program. Not to mention that this change was made IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR LAST SENIOR SEMESTER. My question is, that is it legally allowable to withhold our transcripts being sent to the state, if we do not receive the score that they state that they want us to meet?

JustBeachyNurse, LPN

1 Article; 13,952 Posts

Specializes in Complex pedi to LTC/SA & now a manager. Has 13 years experience.

You need to consult with your state board of nursing or an administrative law attorney. The answer is maybe. Handbooks often have a disclaimer that it's to be considered a guideline and not a binding contract.

In my state, the BoN has specific rules regarding the use of commercial exit exams as a condition of graduation

Has 6 years experience.

You probably agreed to any changes, at some point, in some way, when you started the program. Why not just focus on doing well on your exit exam so it's not an issue for you, at all?


1,381 Posts

I have no advice but I just wanted to say that's ridiculous...


17 Posts

My program required a 97% probability of passing NCLEX on the first try (established with an exit exam through ATI) in order for educational information to be passed on to our BON. Handbooks often come with a "may be changed at will" clause. Yes, it's legal.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Yes - schools can (and do) withhold transcripts for any number of reasons - unpaid fees, overdue library books, tuition balance due, etc. But I think that the issue that OP should pursue is the fact that the school is changing the rules after the fact. This would be like changing curriculum requirements for graduation for currently enrolled students..... usually a definite no-no.

OP should check the school's own policies and review any documents that were included as part of enrollment to make sure that this (school can change stuff without notice) was NOT mentioned anywhere. If it was mentioned, OP has no recourse but if not, it may be possible to take actions to appeal.

Declining NCLEX results are a very serious issue for any school. Continued poor results can result in loss of approval/accreditation... basically, the "death" of a nursing program. So, it is not surprising when schools take very strong corrective actions when this occurs.

Specializes in Med-Surg.

I've heard of schools requiring an exit exam to be eligible to graduate but op said she already has graduated. I don't see how a school can say you can't have copies of your transcripts after you have graduated from the school.


111 Posts

Specializes in ED. Has 15 years experience.

The program directors (at least in my state, you need to check your own BON) reserve the right---and it's stated clearly---to keep you from TAKING THE NCLEX if they feel that remediation is necessary. They CANNOT, however, keep you from graduating. If the minimum GPA is accomplished for the completion of the coursework, then they have no option but to pass you for NURSING.

That said. The HESI was given to our class twice. In January and in May. They offered remediation after the first round to those who performed poorly. The HESI was included (as incentive to do well) as 10% of our grade.

Predictably, my classmates did not avail themselves of any type of remediation whatsoever. "Hey, I have a second chance to do well." and "Hey, it's ONLY 10% of my grade. Who cares?"

Well, this is a PREDICTIVE EXAM. The faculty and directors use this as a bellweather for your ability to pass the NCLEX. Did you honestly believe that **all** the directors/faculty are interested in is teaching you everything you need to know? This is about much, much more than that.

They will allow perfectly good students who may have had a bad test day or turned in a half assed paper---to fail. If you are a marginal student, if you did poorly (twice, in our case) on a predictive exam---you have shown yourself to be poorly equipped to pass the national boards.

Their accreditation and funds rely on pass rates. NCLEX as well as graduation pass rates. Who wants to go to a school that has an NCLEX pass rate for first time takers of 50%? And the state board will yank their accreditation in a heartbeat if that happens.

You have to understand. This isn't about your ability to be "a good nurse". This is about your ability to take and pass the NCLEX. You need to check with your state's BON to find out if they have legal standing, but in my director told us CLEARLY that if we didn't do well on HESI, even if we passed, he would ABSOLUTELY without a moment's hesitation...withhold his signature for taking NCLEX unless the student showed remediation effort and proved competency.

Our class had a good number of cheaters, who managed somehow to get to graduation....and yeah....they had 79.5s and 80s consistently. I certainly would never, EVER allow one of my family or loved ones be taken care of by any of the known cheaters from my class. I applaud any program director who will use their best judgement and hold some student back who hasn't taken any of this seriously.


4 Posts

But see, that's the thing, up until this point nothing was ever mentioned about a specific score being needed on our exit up until the middle of the last semester.


4 Posts

That's what a few people I talked to thought as well. If I needed to get transcripts I could apply to get them, but I don't know if the state will take them unless they are sent from the school.


111 Posts

Specializes in ED. Has 15 years experience.

@Celine, I think that there is a miscommunication here.

First answer this....withhold transcripts from WHOM? The college, in order to graduate? Or from Pearson and your state BON?

Depending on the answer to that question, if it's "to keep you from GRADUATING from your nursing class"---then NO. They cannot do that, particularly if it was not written into the curriculum at the start of the term. WAS IT? Was HESI (or ATI, or whatever you took) a part of your grade? Even if it was, it's just a percentage of that...and I agree with your instructors if they stated in the syllabus that your predictive exam was a percentage of your grade..and you fail miserably both times....that you must remediate.

They CAN withhold your transcripts from going to the BON and to Pearson (you won't get your ATT to test) if they believe that you will not least, in my state they can.

This is about being a safe, competent entry level nurse as well as their funding. The NCLEX is designed to test you on your "minimum qualifications" in order to be a safe nurse. Who in their right mind would allow someone who can't even pass the minimum qualifications for nursing go ahead without remediation?

You have to find out if this is about GRADUATING or it's about NCLEX. Two different things.

The predictive exams are here for a reason. To allow you and your instructors to judge your progress and capability to understand complex and abstract concepts. If there is this titanic struggle to get the scores thrown out, then this is telling me that the scores are extremely poor...

Why would you NOT want to remediate if you did poorly? But again, this may be a something I don't get...that they are saying that they will hold your transcript and prevent you from GRADUATING. I don't think it is, but I could be wrong.


4 Posts

I'm referring to transcripts being sent to Pearson/BON, not graduating. The problem is that they decided to make these changes (being that a certain score is needed in order to send transcripts to Pearson/BON) in the middle of the last senior semester.