Withholding Higher Education

How Current Transcript Policies at Texas Colleges Derail Educational Aspirations and Job Opportunities for Texans

Texas colleges and universities construct financial barriers that limit the upward mobility of current and former students when they withhold college transcripts for outstanding school-related debts.

Texas Appleseed obtained data from six Texas colleges — Blinn College, Dallas College, Northeast Texas Community College, San Jacinto College, South Plains College, and Victoria College — to better understand the impacts of transcript withholding in Texas. 

Our report includes two high-level recommendations:

  • Texas should prohibit higher education institutions from placing holds on students’ transcripts for unpaid debt.
  • Absent a total ban, Texas should require consistent and transparent data reporting related to debts and transcript holds across all higher education institutions, which would provide added insight into the problem in Texas and inform future policy solutions.

Report Authors

Select Top Findings For This Report

  • The impact of transcript withholding falls primarily on individuals no longer enrolled in institutions. On average, former students hold 82.6% of debts and likely did not complete a degree program.
  • Withholding transcripts disproportionately harms Black students. Across the institutions in the study, Black students comprise, on average, 9.7% of the active student body and 23.9% of the individuals harmed by transcript withholding.
  • Nearly 58% of the debts are more than five years old, suggesting transcript holds are an ineffective means of collecting school-related debts.
  • Of the six schools sampled, there are nearly 55,000 outstanding debts preventing individuals from accessing their college transcript. The average amount of debt is $583, and the median amount is about $395.