Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Stop Colleges from Withholding School Transcripts because of Student Loan Payments

July 15, 2019
Press Release

Washington D.C. - Today, Reps. Susie Lee (NV-03), Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), and Rodney Davis (IL-13) introduced the bipartisan Protecting Access to Student Transcripts (PAST) Act to prevent higher education institutions from withholding transcripts from students who have defaulted on their student loans. A college transcript is often necessary to find a good-paying job, apply for graduate school, or transfer schools credits, leaving many of these students with few options to pay off their debt and start their careers after school.  

“The last thing a student drowning in debt needs is to have their transcript withheld, making it that much harder to get a good-paying job to pay off the student loans they accrued in the first place,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee. “Millions of students are already buried under a $1.4 trillion mountain of debt, and we should be doing everything we can to help them start life their life after school off on the right foot. The PAST Act will do exactly that by helping students succeed and make a living without their student debt weighing them down.”

“I’m proud to help introduce this bipartisan, common-sense solution and provide relief to hardworking Iowans,” said Congresswoman Finkenauer. “Many Iowans are one unexpected expense away from missing their student loan payment. They are doing the right thing and trying to get a good job to responsibly make their payments. We need to be making it easier—not harder—for them to do that.”

“I am proud to be an original sponsor of this bill, which recognizes that transcripts are a product of students’ hard work and should not be held hostage based on financial hardship,” said Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson. “The practice of denying indebted students access to their transcripts only exacerbates their inability to repay student loans. Many opportunities are contingent on the submission of a transcript, and less-fortunate graduates absolutely should not be excluded from them because of financial circumstances beyond their control. This bill will bring education closer to the ideal of the great equalizer.”

“Withholding transcripts from students when they default on their loans can create a real and potentially insurmountable barrier to a secure economic future,” said Representative Sherrill. “The burden of student loan debt weighs heavily on both students and families across New Jersey. I am proud to introduce a bipartisan and commonsense bill that will increase protections for students and help to break the cycle of student loan debt.” 

“While I’ve spoken with the major universities in my district and it is not their practice to withhold transcripts based on student loan status, I understand that is not the case with all schools and I want to make sure the law is clear,” said Davis. “We should be helping those in default on their loans do everything they can to get out of debt and oftentimes they may need their transcript to get a job. This is a commonsense fix that doesn’t place any major burden on the university and will ensure former students are not denied transcripts so they can use them for employment or for other purposes.”

“Every student who invests their valuable time and money in higher education deserves access to their own records as a matter of right, said Lanae Erickson, Senior Vice President for Social Policy & Politics. “It is counterproductive and unfair to deny students their transcripts because they are behind on their loan payments. Far too many schools in our higher ed system are leaving the bulk of their students unable to graduate, get a job, or pay back their loans. This legislation would ensure that those colleges can’t continue to harm those students they never truly served by holding their transcripts hostage indefinitely.”

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