In an effort to ensure that institutions of higher education are utilizing best practices on administrative holds, such as transcript withholding, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) and National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), have detailed a framework with which schools should approach the development of their policies.
According to AACRAO and NACUBO, it can be difficult for administrators to contact students since there is no classroom interaction and if other efforts to contact — like phone calls, text, email, or postal service outreach — go unanswered, there is little other recourse available to prompt a student to complete a necessary task that will keep their enrollment on track, or to resolve an unpaid balance.
Due to this barrier in communication, the organizations determined that institutions should be allowed to use different types of holds within specific guidelines to ensure students are not harmed. Without these practices, AACRAO and NACUBO expressed concern that schools would more often resort to resolve debts through the use of collection agencies.
“Referring the debt to a collection agency is a step an institution would prefer not to take,” the joint statement from AACRAO and NACUBO said. “It is the instrument of last resort for most institutions because doing so may leave a current or former student with a damaged credit rating and further in debt, due to interest added and debt-servicing fees.”
Notably, the organizations said administrative-process holds should not be used in the case of “trivial or minor debt” compared to what the student has already paid to the institution.
The issue of student account holds was discussed at length during the most recent negotiated rulemaking committee sessions, where advocates urged the Department of Education (ED) to take steps to ban the practice of transcript withholding for overdue student account balances.
Though ED argued that it did not have the authority to ban transcript withholding, a number of states have begun to analyze and make efforts to prohibit the practice.
In an effort to prevent holds from becoming a stop sign that could derail a student’s higher education goals, AACRAO and NACUBO outlined several other options for holds used in the case of an unpaid balance, such as establishing a payment plan option, allowing students to access an unofficial transcript, allowing students to appeal the ability to send an official transcript to another institution or the inability to register for the subsequent term .
For the full guide on administrative hold practices visit AACRAO and NACUBO general guidance resource page.
Publication Date: 4/13/2022