States step in to stop colleges holding transcripts ransom for unpaid bills

Nationwide, 6.6 million students can’t obtain their transcripts from public and private colleges and universities for having unpaid bills as low as $25 or less, the higher education consulting firm Ithaka S+R estimates.

The policy prevents students from being able to take their credits with them if they transfer, and from going to graduate school or getting jobs that could help them pay their balances.

Unpaid bills can be not only for tuition but also for room and board, fees, parking and library fines and other costs that students sometimes don’t know they owe. In many cases, late charges are added, significantly increasing the original amounts.

Advocates call this “transcript ransom” and “the transcript trap.”

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