Higher Ed Groups Urge Review of Transcript Withholding

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Colleges and universities should review policies related to transcript withholding, a group of higher education associations said in a joint statement released Wednesday.

The American Council on Education and 21 other associations said that a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that found blanket policies to withhold transcripts were abusive should be taken extremely seriously. That report, released last month, could “have a broad impact across higher education,” according to the statement.

The bureau is one of several institutions that have examined transcript withholding in recent years, including ACE, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

“We note that over the past several years national higher education organizations have called on institutional leaders to closely examine their policies on withholding transcripts, determine under what circumstances such policies may be contributing to existing inequities in higher education, and, if so, take steps to amend those policies to the extent they are not bound by relevant state laws or other external rules or regulations,” the statement says. “In particular, withholding transcripts from, or placing enrollment holds on, students who owe de minimis amounts of money to an institution can be harmful to students and counter-productive to institutional goals.”

Some states have prohibited the practice of withholding a student’s transcripts when they have an unpaid balance, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has called for long-term change.

“Clearly, some institutions still have work to do in this area, and the CFPB’s heightened scrutiny follows years of increased attention to transcript withholding policies by the public and policymakers,” the statement says.

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