Ivy Tech Community College will make available transcripts of all students regardless of whether the student owes a balance to the college.
Withholding transcripts is a common way for many higher education institutions to incentivize students to pay their debts; however, the practice makes it difficult for students to transfer and continue their education.
“Our primary goal at Ivy Tech Community College is to prepare individuals to achieve their goals and contribute to their families and their communities through high-wage careers,” said Sue Ellspermann, Ivy Tech president. “We are working to remove barriers in the way of achieving that goal, and this is a step we can take to move our students toward a better financial future.”
The new policy does not forgive debt, but it does provide a way forward for students to continue their academic pursuits, which in turn sets them up for greater financial prosperity. The policy impacts as many as 82,000 students statewide, including those in Columbus.
Ivy Tech officials said in recent years, they have explored a number of ways to increase the college’s graduation rate. The new transcript policy and the Ivy+ tuition and books program and other initiatives encourage students to complete their degrees faster and with fewer barriers.
Nearly all (98%) of the 410 respondents to a 2016 survey from the National Association of College and University Business Officers indicated their higher education institutions hold transcripts as a debt collection tactic.
Nationally, according to the study Solving Stranded Credits: Assessing the Scope and Effects of Transcript Withholding on Students, States and Institutions, approximately 6.6 million students have “stranded credits,” or academic credits they earned but cannot access due to unpaid balances.
Additionally, according to a survey from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, public institutions that enroll higher percentages of Pell-eligible students are more likely to withhold transcripts for an outstanding balance. This suggests students who are most in need are disproportionally affected by transcript hold policies, according to Ivy Tech officials.