Retaining Your Calm: What Happens If You’ve Damaged or Lost Your Diploma?


Career Advancement

Receiving your diploma was probably one of the proudest moments of your life. Especially because you remember the time and effort that you put into this achievement.

But, what happens when you misplace or damaged this precious piece of parchment?

It happens more than you think. All too often, people put their diplomas in a ‘safe place,’ and then when it comes to locating the diploma, you can’t quite remember what ‘safe place’ you put the diploma in. Or, maybe some time has passed between now and graduation and your parents have packed up the house or packed away your diploma. And as much as you search and unearth treasures of the years gone by, you can’t seem to find the diploma.

Why is this such a frequent occurrence amongst people? Because, after the stress and chaos of exams and then graduation, maybe your brain goes into ‘holiday mode’ or maybe you just don’t realize (yet) what value that seemingly small piece of paper could possibly have. And here’s the thing; if the diploma is not immediately placed into a protective frame, shielded from UV rays, water, and the environment, then the chances are pretty high that your diploma will become damaged or lost. And then the question of how you will get a replacement diploma becomes critical for you.

What is the Value your Diploma Holds?

Think about it for a second; how much have you put into your education? And not just financial investment. But the time, the lost sleep, the hopes, the dreams, and the hours of studying. The energy and stress. All of these things make up the real value of what that piece of paper has. The actual cost of this education is not only the student loan, your parent’s savings or your hours of labor. It is all these things and more. In fact, you could even say that the true worth of your diploma is priceless.

Therefore, take care of your diploma. Now, if you have already lost or damaged it, then this may be hollow words for you. However, if you are merely reading out of curiosity then pay heed to these words of advice: treat your diploma with reverence. Preserve and protect the piece of paper. Frame it in a UV protected frame as soon as you can and make sure you place it somewhere that is both safe and memorable.

But what If you have already lost or damaged the diploma? What should you do? Firstly, remain calm, and don’t panic. Just follow the steps outlined below, and you will find yourself gleaming with a renewed diploma in your hand in no time at all.

How to Order a Replacement Diploma

Contact the Relevant Offices

You will need to contact the university or colleges’ registrar office. This office is responsible for keeping track of documents, transcripts, records, and registrations. The registrar office is the one to contact should you need to make a request for a new diploma copy. In fact, it is one of their main duties. In order to contact the office, you may need to look up the university or college’s web page in order to find the right email address or telephone number. If you can’t find the number for the office, just dial the normal number for the school, and they will transfer you to the relevant people.

You only have One Chance

If you lose your diploma once, it is a forgivable mistake. But if you lose it twice, then that is negligence (obviously excluding extreme circumstances).

Therefore, you are only able to request a new diploma one time. This is in accordance with the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). According to this act, all records are to remain private and protected. This means that only you can request access to this information. Not any other member of your family or even your husband or wife may access these records, with one exception of course. In the case of a deceased academic, the estate executor or the next of kin will be permitted to submit a request for a copy of the Diploma or any other records.

The Application Process

Every school will differ in their approach to requests for copies of diplomas. However, the majority of institutions will require identify proof such as copies of passports or driver’s license. In the case of an application for a deceased academic’s records, you will need to submit evidence of the relationship between yourself and the deceased person (this can be in the obituary or in the birth certificate), the death certificate and a certified copy of the Power of Attorney.

The Fee

Remember, this will not be free. Again, each institution will differ on this, but most schools will generally have a fee that you will need to pay. This fee can be from $20 all the way up to $150.

Written Requests

If you need a replacement diploma from your FERPA compliant school (most schools are), then you will need to submit a request in a written form. This compliance is in place as it is intended to reduce identity fraud and theft. If you visit your school’s online site, you will likely find online applications for inquiries about replacing your diploma. Usually, this will be a PDF that you can print and fill out. This document that you filled out by hand will then need to be mailed to the registrar.

You may need the following details: 

  • social security number
  • date of birth
  • why you are requesting for a replacement diploma
  •  name of your school
  • date of graduation
  • what type(s) of degrees or diplomas were awarded
  • your mailing address
  • a notarized and sworn statement about the loss or damage of your original diploma

Remember, all is not lost if you can’t find or if you have damaged your original diploma. Just follow the steps outlined above, be patient, and you should have a new diploma in your hand.


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