Economic Justice / Uncategorized

Colorado needs to ban transcript and diploma withholding

March 17, 2022
CU Boulder

Every year, thousands of Coloradans have their diplomas or transcripts withheld by their higher education institutions. When this happens, many folks experience a double bind: they owe a debt, yet are unable to move forward with their education or careers until a debt is paid, thereby limiting their ability to pay off the original debt. They are trapped in a vicious cycle.

Students and graduates who are able to pay will do so, however for those who cannot afford to pay, providing their transcript at the earliest opportunity puts them in a better position to repay their debts later on. This practice can create immediate barriers to transferring schools, getting a job, or re-enrolling and it disproportionately impacts low-income and BIPOC folks. 

As Colorado strives to be a state where students are supported to complete their degrees, enter the workforce, and contribute to the economy, we must re-evaluate the tools that are being used to recover debt so that we can support Coloradans in getting ahead. 

Many other states are already addressing this practice. In Washington, a year after they banned transcript and diploma withholding, 5 out of 6 of the largest state institutions voluntarily ended the practice early and we’re seeing more and more states working to end this practice. 

Withholding access to transcripts and diplomas is counterproductive and immediately sets people back when they are trying to access postsecondary education and employment – it’s time to end this practice.