NY says colleges can’t withhold transcripts because of unpaid student debts

Posted 6 May 2022 at 9:51 am

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday 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 that 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,” Governor 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.”

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.

Governor Hochul made the proposal to end this practice in her 2022 State of the State Address. In January, the Governor announced that the SUNY board and CUNY board voted to end the practice.