Illinois bill would prohibit colleges from withholding transcripts over unpaid debt

New bill would prohibit colleges from withholding transcripts
New bill would prohibit colleges from withholding transcripts(WGEM)
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 4:01 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - A college transcript is an important career tool for both college students and and alumni.

Right now if they owe their school any money, they aren’t able to access it but that could change if Senate Bill 3032 become a law.

The bill would prevent Illinois college and universities from withholding unofficial transcripts over unpaid fines.

Officials at Quincy University said roughly five percent of students owe the school money, ranging from small fines such as a overdue library book, to potentially thousands of dollars for unpaid room or board.

Vice president of enrollment Tom Oliver said QU and other colleges use the policy as a form of collateral to encourage students to pay their fines.

He said because they’re so important, transcripts are one of the only pieces of leverage schools have to get students to pay their debts.

“They’ve always have been important, but I think for graduate school that’s always been the case,” Oliver said. “Increasingly employers are wanting to confirm that the student has been conferred the degree that they claim on their resume or their application.”

The bill has been approved by both chambers of the Illinois legislature and is awaiting governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature.

Oliver said the legislation is well intentioned but people need to be aware that it wouldn’t wipe away debt a student might owe.

He said institutions will still find ways to collect the debt owed to them by students and alumni.

“I think you’ll see colleges relying more on commercially available debt collection agencies to collect debt and that will potentially make the debt more expensive for the students and former students in the future,” Oliver said.

He said that’s because some collection agencies might tack on extra costs or even pursue litigation against students.

Oliver said if the bill were to become law they would explore all options available that are consistent with their values.

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