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Long story short, I was not a responsible young adult and I didn't know how much I had taken out in student loans for my bachelor's until well after it was over. I recently asked my undergraduate alma mater to send me the balance statements for all semesters. They did and I read through each of them.

Academically, I had a bad first year (2013-2014) in undergrad and ended with a 2.5 GPA. I distinctly remember getting physical mail and was told I lost my $3,000 a semester scholarship that shaved down the cost of attending there. With the help of a life coach, I wrote an appeal and had another chance next academic year to get it back if I could get an overall 3.0 GPA.

However, I was awarded the scholarship in Fall 2014, but not Spring 2015. It was also applied in Fall 2015, despite not yet having an overall GPA above 3.0. That semester, I ended up getting a 3.6 and got my overall GPA past a 3.0 at last. I received the scholarship in Spring 2016 and through graduation in Spring 2017.

Could my undergraduate university potentially find this out if they audit their records and determine I owe them money? If so, I'm a bit concerned about what could happen since that's upwards of $6,000 that I would owe at the very least (for Fall 2014 and 2015) to upwards of $18,000.

To this day, I haven't had any questions or anything about this. As for why I didn't know about this for so long? I left all of my finances in my parent's hands until my Master's program and was negligent.

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    @AzorAhai-him- That's how much I have in undergraduate loans. I also edited the post to cut the first paragraph. Better?
    – zzmondo1
    Oct 30, 2023 at 22:47
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    $6,000 is probably a rounding error for the university, so it being caught in an audit more than six years later doesn't seem too likely. Whether they can ask for money back might depend on the jurisdiction.
    – Anyon
    Oct 30, 2023 at 23:02
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    @AzorAhai-him- No, I'm at a different school than my MA, which is also different for my Ph.D
    – zzmondo1
    Oct 30, 2023 at 23:20
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    My comment is about even after the edit...
    – Bryan Krause
    Oct 30, 2023 at 23:41
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    $18k is a lot to you or me, but to the university it's small change. It simply isn't cost-effective for them to bother pursuing you for this (which would involve legal fees, potential bad publicity, and potential damage to alumni relations/fundraising).
    – avid
    Oct 31, 2023 at 8:04

2 Answers 2

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What could happen is as you describe it and you get a bill. I doubt, however, that such a thing will happen after, I'm assuming, is several years. They, perhaps, made a mistake, but there doesn't seem to be fraud on your part, which would change the situation.

If it happens, it happens, but there is no action you can likely take to prevent it. You can, however, make sure that your finances are as in order as you can make them so that you won't suffer more than necessary in the worst case. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. My guess, and hope, is that you will be fine.

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  • I think I'm going to defer to the legal online groups about this particular matter.
    – zzmondo1
    Oct 31, 2023 at 0:47
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Apart from the question you ask, there is the question you do not ask, which is: I think I was awarded too much money from the university, what should I do?

Your question is not 100% clear, but it seems to me that now you are sure your former university gave you more money than you deserved. Even if they do not ask you to repay, can you live with this moral burden (I am not judging, I personally would say "who cares, it's an university accounting problem" but your mileage may vary)?

So you have this potential debt of 18'000$ pending on you. First, the easy thing: 18000$ is a lot of money ... no they are not. If you buy one new car less than your peers during your life, you will have way more than 18000$ in your bank account. Act accordingly. Second: the "right" thing to do. In my opinion, you should go full transparent with your uni: you already asked the balance statements for all semesters, ask them if they are all paid.

There is a remote chance that your parents took care of them (did you ask them, since they were in charge of your finance?).

If they did not: 18000$ is a small amount in the US, you can get it by working extra-shifts, or even by working with the Uber&co crap, while living on a tight budget for 6 months: not something I would recommend as your regular life-style, but certainly something you can afford as an emergency...

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  • Those balances are all paid off. The scholarship and loans I took out covered all of it. My parents helped cover the one semester I lost the scholarship but that was the one and only time.
    – zzmondo1
    Oct 31, 2023 at 13:52
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    can you make a chronological order of your financial issues? Per each year: do you have any outsanding payment?debt?loan? Per each year: How much were the tuition fees for each year? How much was your scolarship every year? If all balances are paid, what is the issue then?
    – EarlGrey
    Oct 31, 2023 at 14:59

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