ELK MOUND, Wis. — Move-in day at St. Cloud State University was exciting for sophomore Maria Heltne from Elk Mound Wisconsin.
"I was actually very excited to live in this apartment. I had my own room."
But Maria says her experience at the on-campus, University-owned apartment turned sour because of roommate problems.
"They were just very mean and did not appreciate how I wanted to study. They were very into partying. It was not a healthy living environment for me," Heltne said.
Maria says she complained to the Residential office and was allowed to move out in December before the end of the fall semester.
"They even had an RA come check me out. They signed it as well. They made sure everything was clean. And I thought that was all good and dandy," Heltne said.
Good and dandy until February, when she received a nearly $4,000 bill – the spring semester payment for that on-campus apartment she no longer lived in.
Then this summer when Maria tried to transfer to UW Eau Claire, St. Cloud State refused to transfer her credits and two-year degree she earned until she pays that housing bill.
"They are withholding basically two years of my life that I paid for and I worked for," Heltne said.
A St. Cloud State official said they can't discuss Maria's case because of privacy rules, but pointed out their policy to "place a transcript hold on all unpaid student accounts with a balance of more than $30."
We found the apartment agreement makes students pay for two semesters, except for a few specific circumstances like if they quit school.
But when students sign up for housing, they don't even see the agreement unless they click on a hyperlink.
Regardless of whether she'll have to pay for housing she didn't use – she doesn't think the school should prevent her from continuing her academic career.
"My housing bill should have nothing to do with my transcripts," Heltne said. "It just sets back my life."
And it will set back her life further, because UW Eau Claire did not receive transcripts by the transfer deadline. So Heltne won't be able to go to school this fall.