Transcripts are an important record of a student’s academic achievements in high school. As you plan for college or a career after graduation, you may be wondering – how long do high schools actually keep transcripts on file?

Getting the facts straight on transcript retention policies can help you access these records when you need them down the line.

The quick answer is: most high schools keep transcripts permanently as a part of a student’s permanent record. However, policies vary from state to state and school district to school district. Read on for a detailed look at high school transcript retention laws and policies.

Federal Laws on High School Transcript Retention

When it comes to the retention of high school transcripts, there are several federal laws in place to ensure the privacy and protection of students’ educational records. Two key laws that address this issue are the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Requirements

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), high schools are required to maintain students’ educational records, including transcripts, for a specific period of time. FERPA sets forth guidelines to protect the privacy of students and their families, while also granting them certain rights to access and control their educational records.

According to FERPA, high schools must retain transcripts for at least five years after a student has graduated or otherwise left the school. This ensures that students have ample time to request their transcripts for college applications, employment opportunities, or other purposes.

It’s important to note that FERPA applies to all educational institutions that receive federal funding, including public and private high schools. Schools that fail to comply with FERPA requirements may face penalties and loss of federal funding.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

In addition to FERPA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) also plays a role in the retention of high school transcripts for students with disabilities. IDEA is a federal law that ensures students with disabilities receive appropriate educational services and supports.

Under IDEA, high schools are required to maintain students’ educational records, including transcripts, after the student has received special education services. This allows for the continuity of services and the ability to track the student’s progress over time.

It’s essential for high schools to adhere to the requirements set forth by IDEA to ensure that students with disabilities have access to their educational records and can advocate for their needs in post-secondary settings.

State Laws on Transcript Retention

When it comes to transcript retention, each state in the United States has its own set of regulations and policies. These laws are in place to ensure the security and accessibility of student records, as well as to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.

It is important for high schools and educational institutions to comply with these laws to maintain the integrity of academic records.

Sample State Laws

While the specific laws may vary, here are a few examples of how different states handle transcript retention:

  • In California, high schools are required to keep student records, including transcripts, permanently after the student has graduated or last attended the school.
  • In Texas, public high schools must retain student records, including transcripts, indefinitely after the student has graduated, transferred, or withdrawn from the school.
  • In New York, public and private high schools are required to keep student records, including transcripts, for at least 20 years after the student has graduated or last attended the school.

It is important to note that these are just a few examples, and each state may have its own unique laws regarding transcript retention. It is always best to consult your state’s education department or the school district for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Checking Your State’s Policy

If you are unsure about your state’s policy on transcript retention, there are a few ways you can find out. One option is to visit your state’s department of education website. They usually have information regarding education laws and policies, including transcript retention.

Another option is to contact your high school or school district directly. They will be able to provide you with the specific guidelines for transcript retention in your state.

It is important to keep in mind that these laws are in place to protect the rights and privacy of students. Transcript retention ensures that academic records are securely stored and accessible when needed.

Whether you are a current student or an alumni, knowing how long your high school keeps transcripts can be useful information for future reference or college applications.

Variations in School District Policies

When it comes to how long high schools keep transcripts, there can be significant variations in policies among different school districts. While there are some common trends, it is essential to check the specific guidelines of your individual school district to understand their specific policy.

More vs. Less Stringent Policies

Some school districts have more stringent policies regarding the retention of student transcripts. These districts may keep transcripts on file for a longer period, sometimes even indefinitely. This can be beneficial for alumni who may need access to their academic records years or even decades after graduating.

On the other hand, some school districts have less stringent policies, and they may keep transcripts for a shorter duration. In such cases, it is crucial for students and alumni to be proactive in obtaining copies of their transcripts before they are no longer available.

It’s important to note that the reasons for these variations in policies can vary. Some districts may have limited resources or storage capacity, while others may have implemented more robust record-keeping systems.

Obtaining Copies as an Alumnus

As an alumnus, obtaining copies of your high school transcripts can be a straightforward process in most cases. Many school districts have established protocols for requesting transcripts, which often involve filling out a form and providing some identification.

These forms are typically available on the school district’s website or can be obtained from the school’s administrative office.

In some cases, there may be a small fee associated with obtaining copies of transcripts. This fee is usually meant to cover the administrative costs involved in processing the request.

However, it’s worth noting that some school districts waive this fee for alumni who graduated within a certain timeframe.

If you are unable to obtain copies of your transcripts directly from your high school or school district, there are also third-party services available that can assist you in obtaining them. These services often require you to provide some basic information, such as your name, date of birth, and graduation year, and they will handle the rest of the process for you.

It’s worth mentioning that while high schools generally keep transcripts for a certain period, it’s still a good idea to keep your own copies as a backup. This can come in handy if you need to provide proof of your education for employment, further education, or other purposes.

Special Cases and Exceptions

While high schools generally have policies in place for keeping student transcripts, there are certain special cases and exceptions that may affect how long these records are retained. Let’s take a closer look at some of these scenarios:

Student Withdrawals and Transfers

When a student withdraws from a high school or transfers to another school, their transcript is typically sent to their new educational institution. However, the original high school may still retain a copy of the transcript for a certain period of time.

The length of time can vary depending on the school’s policies and local regulations. In some cases, high schools may keep these records for 1-5 years after a student’s departure, ensuring that there is a record of their educational history should it be needed in the future.

Closed Schools

In the unfortunate event that a high school closes down, there are protocols in place to ensure that student records are not lost. Typically, these records are transferred to another educational institution or to the school district’s central office.

It’s important to note that the specific duration for which these records are retained can vary depending on local regulations and the circumstances surrounding the closure of the school. Students or alumni seeking access to their transcripts in such cases should reach out to the relevant local education authority for guidance.

Damaged or Missing Records

In some instances, high schools may encounter situations where transcripts have been damaged or have gone missing. This could be due to natural disasters, accidents, or other unforeseen circumstances. In such cases, schools may have backup systems in place to recover or recreate the records.

The length of time it takes to rectify these situations can vary depending on the extent of the damage or loss. High schools may also work with relevant authorities or professional services to retrieve or recreate the necessary documentation.

It’s important to remember that the information provided here is a general overview, and specific policies regarding transcript retention may differ between schools and jurisdictions. It is always a good idea to consult with the high school or relevant educational authority for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding transcript retention.


While most high schools keep transcripts indefinitely, policies vary when it comes to how long transcripts are maintained and how accessible they are. Knowing the transcript retention regulations in your state and district can help you obtain copies as needed for college, employment, or other purposes.

The bottom line: be proactive about requesting copies of your high school transcript. With the right information and planning, you can have your important academic records when you need them.

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