Official transcripts are only those that arrive directly from the registrar's office. What is the concern about making sure transcripts are official? Fake or tampered transcripts can be sent by post too.

What are the security guarantees of a directly shipped transcript?

  • 2
    It can be falsified, but it is more difficult. Plus, the applicant won't "forget" to include "that one page" with the bad grades.
    – Davidmh
    Nov 30 '16 at 14:18
  • 2
    If you live in the US, mail fraud is a federal crime.
    – Nobody
    Nov 30 '16 at 14:28
  • 1
    I think this is a reasonable question. When I graduated (20+ years ago), I got a stack of transcripts directly from the registrar. It was cheaper to have multiple copies directly sent to me than it was to ask them to post the transcript to each graduate school. However, to my chagrin, most grad schools asked for the copies to be sent directly - so I still have a pile of transcripts from undergrad somewhere in a file folder in my storage unit.
    – RoboKaren
    Dec 1 '16 at 19:53

There are a number of security concerns:

  1. The postmark will match that of the university
  2. Many universities' official transcripts contain authentication features that can't be easily replicated -- deterring fakes.
  3. The receiver can contact the university to verify that the transcript was indeed sent on the date listed on the transcript and that the details inside are correct.
  4. The transcript may contain a letter from the registrar with a signature. As in responses 2 & 3 this can be used to make authentication possible while deterring duplication.

The question I'm left with is why do you ask?

  • Just out of interest concerning point 1: Does that imply the sending university has something like its own post office? As for point 3, it would seem that could be done equally well with a "non-official" (i.e. printed by the registrar, then sent by the applicant) transcript. Dec 1 '16 at 21:20
  • My university had its own post office. I am not familiar with where this student went to school. I have also not lived in the same state as my university since graduation. So if I were an employer asking for an official transcript from, say, Nebraska, and it comes from, say, a Rhode Island zip code, isn't that cause for alarm? And yes, you could indeed do that with a "non-official" transcript, but the question was about official transcripts and the security issues involved with them. Dec 1 '16 at 22:43
  • Under the described circumstances, certainly; being from a country where universities typically do not have enclosed campuses, I was just not familiar with the idea that a university could have its own post office. Of course, a rough localization (as you say, the state) can also be a telltale sign even without an own post office, unless the sending university sends its letters from another place than where its campus is. Concerning the other point, I took the question to ask for security benefits available with official transcripts, but unavailable with "non-official" ones. Dec 1 '16 at 22:58
  • Ah...well official transcripts usually have watermarks and other paper security features and are sent directly from the university with a letter from the registrar. I'm sure it's not foolproof and I am absolutely certain someone, somewhere has managed to get around this system. Dec 1 '16 at 23:01

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