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H.B. 595 Transcript Withholding Ban receives first hearing in House Higher Education Committee

Reps. Sweeney, Crossman push for end of transcript withholding for fines and other institutional debts and call for placing students first
May 19, 2020
Jeffrey A. Crossman News

COLUMBUS- State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today announced that House Bill (HB) 595, her jointly sponsored legislation with Rep. Jeffrey A. Crossman (D-Parma) to require higher education institutions to release student transcripts regardless of student-owned institutional debt, received a first hearing in the Ohio House Higher Education Committee.

“The Ohio Revised Code currently allows for withholding student transcripts over library fines and other institutional debts,” said Rep. Sweeney. “This egregious practice essentially traps these individuals in low wage jobs and makes it harder for them to pay off their debt. Transcript withholding works against Ohio’s future and our own state goal of having 65 percent of our working population attain a degree or certification by 2025. By removing this dangerous and ineffective tool, we will make it easier for Ohioans to get a job and earn a degree.”

“Transcript withholding also holds our students back and prevents them from earning more income, being more productive and helping our state flourish,” said Rep. Crossman. “There are other more productive methods to ensuring monies are paid without resorting to holding someone’s future hostage. As state policymakers, we should be removing unnecessary hurdles so students have an opportunity to achieve their full potential.”

Under current law, nearly 400,000 Ohio students could be prohibited from entering the workforce or pursing higher education because of institutional debts. It is estimated that only seven percent of these student debts are collected once certified to the office of the Ohio Attorney General. HB 595 would end this method of student debt collection.

The bill prohibits any institution of higher education from:

  • Refusing to provide a transcript for a current or former student on the grounds that the student owes a debt to the institution;
  • Making the provision of a transcript conditional on the payment of an institutional debt, other than a fee charged to provide the transcript;
  • Charging a higher fee or providing less favorable treatment for requesting a transcript because a student owes an institutional debt;
  • Using transcript issuance as a tool for debt collection.

HB 595 now awaits additional hearings in the House Higher Education Committee.