ACE, Other Higher Education Associations Urge Institutions to Review Transcript Withholding Policies
October 12, 2022

​Colleges and universities should have a clear understanding of institutional policies regarding transcript and enrollment holds, and be prepared to explain how they determined these policies to be effective and fair, says a joint statement issued today by ACE and 21 other higher education associations.

“We urge all college and university institutional and system leaders to review their existing transcript hold policies and consider how they might be revised to address inequities, improve educational access and better serve their students,” the associations state.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a report finding that transcript withholding by institutions aimed at getting students to pay back outstanding debt can be abusive. The CFPB “determined that blanket policies to withhold transcripts in connection with an extension of credit are abusive under the Consumer Financial Protection Act” and “directed institutional lenders to cease this practice.”

The associations noted that they take the CFPB report extremely seriously. They emphasized in the statement that “over the past several years national higher education organizations have called on institutional leaders to closely examine their policies on withholding transcripts, determine under what circumstances such policies may be contributing to existing inequities in higher education, and, if so, take steps to amend those policies. In particular, withholding transcripts from, or placing enrollment holds on, students who owe de minimis amounts of money to an institution can be harmful to students and counter-productive to institutional goals.”

The statement acknowledges that some institutions still can make improvements, and that there is heightened scrutiny by the CFPB and other policy makers, as well as the media and general public, on transcript withholding policies.

“We will continue to work with our institutions to make progress on this important issue and ensure that all students are served fairly and effectively,” the statement concludes.