8 ways to support students with ‘stranded credits’

64% of institutions that withhold transcripts do so for a balance of less than $25

Colleges and universities that serve higher populations of Pell grant recipients are more likely to with transcript from a student over outstanding balances, according to a new analysis.

A new report, “2020 Stranded Credits Report: Another Perspective on the Lost Credits Story,” also found that:

  • Among those that withhold an official transcript, 96% do so for an outstanding balance; 64% of those do so for a balance of less than $25.
  • Two-thirds of institutions do not have debt forgiveness practices.
  • Three-quarters of institutions do not have any debt elimination initiatives.
  • Few institutions can determine the percentage of the students impacted by a transcript hold or the characteristics of the students most impacted.

“Too little data exists to draw any conclusion about the scope of the impact on students and this is a major weakness for any institution seeking to be student-centered,” the authors of American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers report write. “The impact of any practice which either negatively or positively impacts students should be able to be tabulated and tracked over time to monitor for effectiveness and any issues of equity.”

The study makes the following recommendations:

  • Instead of withholding transcripts for outstanding balances of less than $25, institutions should establish an internal fund to eliminate these small debts.
  • Widely distribute all written policies about when an official transcript will not be released.
  • Ensure students know how these circumstances can be avoided.
  • Provide a formal avenue for appeal.
  • Provide students with a single unofficial transcript.
  • Release official transcripts to a prospective or current employer if necessary.
  • Notify students of your policy and practice early and often, particularly if a student has a transcript hold.
  • Develop debt elimination and debt forgiveness programs.

More from UB: Stranded credits are a big problem. Can colleges rescue students?

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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