According to a new report, withholding students’ course credits due to unpaid tuition fees and tuition balances owed to universities will have a long-term negative impact, especially for low-income students and students of color. Qualitative research From the higher education consulting company Ithaka S+R.

The authors of this study on the so-called delinquent points for studying abroad believe that withholding transcripts is an issue of race and socio-economic equity, which delays or prevents students from graduating, and is a barrier to career opportunities, which will help them earn enough Money to repay agency debt.

The research is based on interviews with 11 students of color and two transfer consultants from five higher education institutions to understand their experiences and thoughts on stranded credits. The study also emphasized the narratives shared by students on social media.

“The students most deprived of their rights by the education system and the lingering effects of apartheid are those who pay for this policy,” said Sosania Jones, the lead author of the study and associate professor of education leadership and policy studies.Howard University

Her research follows last year’s Ithaka S+R report, in which estimated Students across the country owe colleges and universities up to 15 billion U.S. dollars in unpaid tuition and tuition fees. Approximately 6.6 million students may Overwhelmed Through stranded credit.At the same time, a Survey of 295 institutions The American Association of College Enrollment and Admissions Officers found that 95% of students conceal their transcripts for some reason.

As colleges and universities, especially community colleges and minority service organizations, use federal coronavirus relief funds to repay the institutional debt owed by students, the issue of delayed study abroad has attracted more and more national attention. More than 20 historic black colleges and universities Clear The outstanding balance of the student in recent months.

Debt clearing is a response to widespread praise for the financial challenges and unemployment faced by many students during the pandemic.But some observers believe Point out Without federal funding, these universities are paying back money they might not receive. Others pointed out that the one-off repayment will not help resolve the wider federal student loan debt crisis, which places a disproportionate burden on black borrowers. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that even a one-time debt relief can have a huge impact on the lives of students who are dragged down by arrears and stranded credit.

“Before you talk to the affected students, you really don’t understand the importance of labor costs,” Jones said. “The advantage of this research is that it actually provides you with the life experiences of them being eliminated or even unable to receive higher education for a long time, and how it affects their lives.”

Jones said she thinks it is important to bring students’ personal stories about stranded credits into national discussions.

The report is flooded with anonymous student narratives from interviews and social media, detailing the lingering impact of the students’ delayed study points: students have to stop temporarily, resume classes elsewhere, change majors and miss promotion opportunities at work, because They did not obtain their academic certificates or degrees.

One student — named after her name Amy alone — said that she left the university in 1988 because it was “too many” to do two part-time jobs and register for a complete course. When she re-enter the school, the Financial Aid Office called her about two weeks before class and told her that she must pay the outstanding balance before returning to school.

“I don’t have that money, I can’t do it,” she said. “For students at the lower end of the economic ladder, it puts you in a box. For example, you can’t go to a new university, and the old university won’t let you go because you owe them money. You can’t get to go anywhere. Information required.”

Many students described fighting against institutional bureaucracy, especially with their college’s registry and financial aid office. Most of the students interviewed went to college for the first time more than five years ago, which surprised Jones. She said that the length of time reflects how many stranded credits will slow down the completion of the university.

Delays can also become a long-term barrier for students to become highly paid professionals, reduce the income they could have earned over time, and lead to stubborn racial gaps between rich and poor.

Jones said that an important narrative missing from this study and many studies on higher education is the stories of students who have never returned to college.

She said that one of the “criticisms” of higher education research is that “we only talk to people involved in higher education.” “Stranded credits do prevent people from receiving higher education… Some people, or perhaps most people, this is actually invisible because they no longer attend higher education.”

In view of the pandemic, some institutions are trying to solve the problem of stranded credit. For example, the City University of New York system recently released transcripts of students and graduates who have not paid tuition and fees. It also lifted the financial freeze on 74,000 student accounts due to outstanding balances during the pandemic. The one-time action is applicable to students enrolled in the system between March 13, 2020 (the day when COVID-19 was declared a national public health emergency) and the spring of 2022.

The President of the City University of New York, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, said in a statement: “Regardless of the individual’s financial situation, issuing student transcripts and canceling financial seizures The most pragmatic and compassionate way forward in this challenging environment.” Press Releases.

Trinity Washington University is a private Hispanic institution in Washington, DC. Its policy is to deduct points for studying abroad and prohibit students from re-registering if they owe the institution US$4,000 or more. The university abandoned its policy for the 2020-2022 academic year and the upcoming fall semester to reduce the financial burden on students during the pandemic. It also used COVID-19 relief funds to pay an unpaid balance of $2.3 million to 535 undergraduate students.

Trinity President Pat McGuire said that analysis of the policy a few years ago showed that the university usually loses about 200 to 300 students per year due to debt to the institution, and the university is already reconsidering stranded credits. She plans to propose alternatives for future policies. She pointed out that the median household income of Trinity students is US$25,000 per year. She said these students “really have no money.”

“The problems we have encountered, any president will tell you, when the admissions side says,’Let us stop implementing this policy,’ said the financial side,’on my corpse,'” she said. But “the idea of ​​forcing students to pay is a false hope. What it does is to make students angry and frustrated, causing them to leave school, which means they cannot find a job that helps them financially. For low-income students , This doesn’t work.”

A long-term alternative explored by other universities is debt forgiveness over time.Wayne State University in Detroit launched a project called Warrior’s return In 2018, for students with outstanding balances who wish to return after leaving the institution for two years or more. The university waives up to $1,500 for eligible students for three semesters or upon graduation. Eligible students must have a balance of $1,500 or less and at least 2.0 GPA.

“Student debt is becoming an issue that institutions need to start thinking about and addressing,” said Ahmad Ezzedine, vice president of education promotion and international projects at Wayne State University. “When we started looking at the data, we found a large number of students at Wayne University-many students received nearly 100 credits but never completed their studies.”

In the past few years, state legislators across the country have also begun to reduce the practice of withholding transcripts. California became the first state in 2019 to ban transcripts as a debt collection strategy. Washington and Louisiana will follow in 2020. Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Ohio have also proposed similar bills.

Given the “fusion” of the pandemic and the nation’s attention to racial justice triggered by the killing of George Floyd last summer, Jones hopes the movement will grow.

She said: “I think this is a good time to promote it, and may start to really reduce this practice.”

These efforts are not without opposition. Some college and university leaders believe that transcript retention is a necessary tool to recover the funds needed to maintain the organization.

Parents “know that sometimes you can do a lot of things to try to get someone to behave in a certain way, but you can’t bring someone to the table until you have a big stick,” Independent Chairman Tristandish-Kuhn University of Washington Say witness Oppose the Washington State bill before the Washington House of Representatives College and the Workforce Development Committee.

McGuire believes that as lawmakers turn their attention to this issue, colleges and universities will “unconsciously” abandon policies that lead to credit retention. She hopes that federal policymakers will increase Pell’s grants so that low-income students will eventually reduce unpaid tuition and fees, so that under-resourced institutions are less dependent on recovering lost funds from students.

The Ithaca S+R report provides a series of policy recommendations. It recommends that state legislators enact legislation to prevent or prevent institutions from holding transcripts and encourage more flexible options, such as debt relief programs and payment plans. It also pointed out that these efforts can be strengthened by “supporting capacity building” for institutions with insufficient resources.

Jones pointed out that the students in the study expressed a desire to repay the agency’s debt, even though they thought it was wrong to take their credit as a hostage.

“They don’t have to shirk responsibility,” she said. “They want more choices, they want more flexibility, they want more empathy.”

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