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Hochul signs legislation preventing colleges from withholding transcripts because of unpaid debts


Wed, May 4th 2022 05:20 pm

Legislation S.5924-C/A.6938-B ensures students have access to transcript data necessary to complete their degree and obtain employment

√ Governor previously ordered SUNY & CUNY to end this practice

Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed legislation S.5924-C/A.6938-B that prohibits colleges from withholding a student's transcript because of unpaid debts or charging individuals who owe debts a higher fee to obtain their transcript. This legislation ensures students can access their transcript when necessary, so that they may continue their education or find a job.

"Transcripts are critical for students to continue pursuing their educational and career goals," Hochul said. "To hold transcripts hostage until outstanding debts are paid is an unfair, predatory practice that prevents our students from reaching their full potential. I was proud to make ending transcript withholding a top priority, and took action to end this practice at SUNY and CUNY in January. Today, we put an end to this abhorrent policy for all higher education institutions to ensure a level playing field for New York's students."

Hochul’s team said, “The tactic of withholding student transcripts or overcharging for their release has been used by some colleges in the state to leverage collection of outstanding debts; however, one is not related to the other. Withholding a student's transcript is a punitive measure that penalizes students with less resources, while ironically making it more difficult for them to advance in higher education or obtain employment that will allow them to make outstanding payments.”

The governor made the proposal to end this practice in her 2022 State of the State address. In January, she announced the SUNY board and CUNY board voted to end the practice.

New York State Sen. Kevin Thomas said, "Transcripts are a record of a students' education – they are not and were never meant to be tools for debt collection. Transcript withholding is a disruptive, counter-productive and harmful practice that prevents students from being able to transfer credits, re-enroll in school to finish their degrees, or obtain jobs that could help them pay their balances. Each withheld transcript represents a student who was denied the opportunity to pursue a chosen career path, denied access to social and economic mobility through higher education, and ultimately denied access to the American Dream.”

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