SUNY will stop withholding transcripts from students who owe money to college

Posted 25 January 2022 at 6:37 pm

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the State University of New York Board of Trustees has ended the practice of withholding transcripts from students with outstanding balances, effective immediately.

This follows Governor Hochul’s plan to eliminate the practice across the State as part of the 2022 State of the State – including directing public colleges and universities to immediately stop withholding transcripts and proposing legislation for all higher education institutions in the State.

“Education is key to unlocking opportunity and to help New Yorkers succeed, we need to eliminate punitive barriers to opportunity like transcript withholding,” Governor Hochul said. “This is a matter of common sense. New Yorkers will not be able to climb the ladder of success and get out of debt if their financial challenges prevent them from accessing those opportunities. While I am proud that SUNY students will no longer have their transcripts held hostage, all students deserve the same protections. We must pass legislation to end this unjust practice for all New York students once and for all.”

Each year, about 50 percent of SUNY students graduate from college debt-free. However, other students graduate with an outstanding balance of about $3,500, on average, and as of 2020 about 19,000 students still owed their SUNY campus.

With today’s Board action, now those students may receive their transcript, thereby enabling them to re-enroll in a campus, transfer credits, complete their degree, and obtain jobs that could help pay down their unpaid balance. CUNY announced a temporary hold on the practice last August.

As part of the resolution, the Board of Trustees also authorized the SUNY Chancellor, or a designee, to review all debt collection practices and make any appropriate policy changes, rulemaking, and other modifications in line with today’s action. SUNY follows State Finance Law, as well as State Division of the Budget guidance, SUNY Regulations and Policy, and a Memorandum of Understanding between SUNY and the New York Attorney General.

SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, “Students come to SUNY for an excellent and affordable college education, often making personal sacrifices along the way in order to reach the career of their dreams. To come so far only to be held back by unpaid fees and fines is simply unfair to our students. My thanks for Governor Hochul for shining light on this oversight that has been common place throughout higher education, and for bringing further equity to our economically disadvantaged students, who have worked hard to earn their degree.”

About The State University of New York

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory.

In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum.