Here Are the States That Ban Colleges From Withholding Transcripts

Over 25% of college students study in a state with a ban on transcript withholding, according to the Student Borrower Protection Center.
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Updated on July 31, 2023
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  • Oregon was the latest state to ban transcript withholding.
  • Many individual institutions have also stopped the practice in recent years.
  • However, in most of the U.S., colleges and universities may still withhold transcripts.

More and more states with large college student populations are passing bills banning schools from withholding transcripts due to debts.

Oregon was the latest state to enact a bill forbidding the practice in July 2023. The Oregon measure, however, does not officially go into effect until Jan. 1, 2024.

That brings the grand total of states with transcript withholding bills to 11.

Those states include:

  • New York
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Washington
  • Ohio
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Oregon
  • Connecticut

It’s worth noting that Indiana's law doesn’t ban all transcript withholding. It instead bans colleges and universities from withholding a transcript if a student paid between $100-$300 toward their debt within the past year, depending on the amount owed.

Approximately, 1 in 4 students across the U.S. studies in a state that offers protection from transcript withholding, according to an analysis from the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC).

"States have historically set the agenda in addressing the student debt crisis. We applaud leaders in New York and other states who are leading the way in framing the policy response to institutional debt," Mike Pierce, executive director at SBPC, said in a statement. "As more states prohibit transcript withholding as a debt collection tactic, they are also looking to the future and asking 'How can we help students with the underlying debt itself?' Now is the time for education and consumer advocates to come together to get this right."

Most schools that utilize transcript withholding do so when a student owes any debt to the institution. A 2020 report from research group Ithaka S+R estimates about 6.6 million current and former students, many of them adults who stopped out, owed as much as $15 billion as of 2018. The average unpaid balance was $2,300.

Without their transcripts, many students aren't able to transfer to different schools or graduate from their college. This leads to what some call "stranded credits."

An analysis from the Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations counts nine states where legislatures have introduced bills that would ban the practice of transcript withholding at public universities since 2021. None of those bills, however, passed.

Those states included:

  • Louisiana
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island

There has been no legislative action to ban transcript withholding nationally. However, the U.S. Education Department proposed regulatory language in March 2022 that would deny a school's ability to withhold transcripts in limited circumstances.

Some student advocates expressed disappointment that the department's proposal wasn't broader.