State Sen. committee to hear bill on college practice of withholding transcripts

STATEHOUSE — State Sen. Spencer Deery (R-West Lafayette) will present a Senate Bill 404 to the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development on Wednesday, Jan. 25 that would limit the scenarios in which Indiana colleges may refuse to provide transcripts to current and former students based on debt the individual owes the institution.

According to the nonprofit Ithaca S+R, an estimated 138,000 Hoosiers owe an average of $2,800 to higher education institutions. Ithaca’s research suggests when individuals are denied access to a transcript it can impede college completion and job placement, especially for low-income and minority Hoosiers, which in turn makes it harder for former students to pay down debt.

Under the proposed bill, universities would be prohibited from withholding a transcript if the student paid at least $100 toward the debt within the last year, or entered into a repayment plan.

“It makes no sense that at a time when our state is encouraging Hoosiers to go back to school and finish their degrees that we also fail to provide guardrails on the practice of holding transcripts hostage,” Deery said. “I carefully crafted this bill so that it would allow universities to still use transcripts as leverage in limited situations without blocking the educational progress of students who are making good faith efforts to pay off their debts.”

An estimated 750,000 adult Hoosiers have some college credit but no degree.

This proposal does not forgive debt, but changes how universities can leverage transcripts in order to collect the money current and former students may owe the institution. One alternative already permitted by existing law is for universities to intercept the tax rebates of those who owe them money. In 2021, Ivy Tech ceased withholding transcripts because of the success obtaining payment through tax intercepts.

Bills must first be considered by assigned committees before moving to the full Senate. Committee hearings can be viewed online at iga.in.gov. Legislative calendars, agendas, vote tallies and proposed legislation can also be found on this site.

Deery encourages constituents to contact him with any questions or concerns on this and other topics at Senator.Deery@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9400.