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The ‘Pernicious’ Practice of Withholding Transcripts to Collect Debt


Federal scrutiny grows of a practice colleges use widely. Two experts discuss what policy makers and institutions can do to avoid impeding students from jobs or further education. Should unpaid debts to their colleges stop students from getting jobs or continuing their educations?

Some government officials don’t think so, and they are targeting transcript withholding, in which colleges and universities prevent former students from receiving academic transcripts they need for employment or enrollment at a new institution.

This is a tiny piece of the $1.7 trillion student debt problem in American higher education, but more than most, it is in the control of colleges and universities. That’s part of the reason why Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have identified transcript withholding as a possibly unfair debt collection practice.

A recent episode of The Key , Inside Higher Ed ’s news and analysis podcast, explored transcript withholding in the larger context of the debt students owe to their institutions and how colleges go about collecting it.

Guests included Martin Kurzweil, director of the institutional transformation program at Ithaka S+R, and Melanie Gottlieb, executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, or AACRAO. Kurzweil discussed […]

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