By Bob Katzen

The Higher Education Committee held a hearing on a measure that would prohibit public and private colleges from withholding a student’s entire academic transcript if the student owes the school money for any loan payments, fines, fees, tuition or other expenses.

The measure would allow schools to withhold from the transcript only any academic credits and grades for any specific course for which that student’s tuition and mandatory course fees are not paid in full.

Supporters said currently schools can withhold a student’s entire transcript even though it might be just one course for which the student has not paid. They said this means that these students cannot use any credits to transfer to more affordable institutions or to obtain employment.

“Higher Education institutions are supposed to be vehicles of opportunity, economic mobility and promises of a better future,” said sponsor Rep. David LeBoeuf (D-Worcester). “Continuing to foster adverse practices that disproportionally penalize low-income students go against these principles, and the principles of the commonwealth. It is our responsibility to make sure those who pursue higher education are not saddled with debt or denied advancement opportunities because of limited financial resources. This bill begins to address this issue by eliminating a counterintuitive practice that has no place in Massachusetts.”

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