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The Colorado Senate on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Senators Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village) to prohibit post-secondary institutions from withholding transcripts because a student owes a debt to the institution.

The bill, HB22-1049, protects students with debt from tuition, financial aid funds, and room and board fees from having their transcript withheld when they apply for a job, credit transfer, or financial aid. It also protects transcript withholding for those pursuing opportunities in the military and post-secondary institutions. Often these financial disciplinary actions land on low-income students and minority and first-generation higher ed students.

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“Withholding transcripts from students trying to enter the workforce is an unnecessary obstacle that disproportionately impacts low-income students and students of color,” said Pettersen.

“This bill aims to break down this barrier by prohibiting higher education institutions from withholding transcripts and diplomas from students who have unpaid debts when they are applying for a job or seeking further education, setting our students up for success and helping to strengthen our workforce,” she added.

“As Coloradans, we believe in the values of responsibility and opportunity,” said Bridges. “If a student owes a college or university money, they ought to pay that money back. But when a student needs proof of their academic record to pursue a career and get a good-paying job, so that they can afford to pay off what they owe, colleges and universities have a responsibility to provide that transcript. Holding transcripts for ransom is a harmful debt collection practice that has become all too common, and it’s time we put a stop to it here in Colorado.”

HB22-1049 will protect students from transcript withholding when they owe an unpaid debt. It would also prohibit institutions from charging a higher fee or providing less favorable treatment in response to a transcript or diploma request because a student owes a debt.

Having already passed the house, the bill now moves to the Governor’s desk for final approval.