New Jersey state bill limits college transcripts

A quick dive:

  • A bill before the New Jersey Legislature would basically prohibit the state’s colleges from withholding academic transcripts for money students must pay for non-tuition related expenses.
  • Colleges will also be able to block access to the academic records of students who owe more than $2,000 in what the bill considers “optional payments” that are not included in tuition, room, board and other fees.
  • The General Assembly, the lower house of the legislature, passed the bill in December. He then moved to the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Dive Insight:

Student success advocates argue that institutions should not refuse to share academic transcripts in lieu of relatively inexpensive fines or fees. This can affect students’ futures, as they usually need their documents to apply to graduate school or transfer to another institution. Sometimes they are also needed to find a job.

In some cases, transcript delays can prevent students from receiving credentials if they are unable to pay off their balances. An estimated 6.6 million students have such “credit-bearing” loans. according to the 2020 report according to the research nonprofit Ithaka S+R — and they are more likely to be adults or low-income students, or those who are members of racial or ethnic minorities.

Campaigns to end the practice of withholding transcripts have been going on since before the coronavirus pandemic, but the issue has gained attention in recent years as the spread of COVID-19 has fueled inequality.

US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in December 2021 urged in college reconsider the use of transcripts, saying they hinder underserved students’ retention and degree completion.

And the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in September determine the blanket policy of withholding the statements of students who have outstanding debt “is an abuse of the Consumer Financial Protection Act.”

The consequences of delaying students’ paperwork are “often disproportionate” to their original amount of debt, the bureau wrote.

“This increased pressure to produce transcripts leaves little to no bargaining power for consumers, while academic achievement and professional achievement depend on the actions of a single academic institution,” the report said.

In New Jersey, nearly 140,000 students are estimated to be unable to access their records because of unpaid balances that average about $2,800. according to Ithaka S+R.

The state bill, which would apply to any New Jersey institution licensed to grant degrees, clarifies that colleges can require students to follow a repayment plan if they owe more than $2,000 in tuition, fees or “optional fees “. The college will then give students access to their transcript after the first payment is made.

Colleges would be required to provide their transcripts to students regardless of whether they intend to apply for or refinance a student loan.

Several other states and institutions of higher education have restricted the retention of transcripts. California and Colorado are among the states that prohibit transcript retention.

I State University of New York and City University of New Yorktwo giant public systems of higher education announced early last year that they would permanently abandon the practice.

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