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tag: Institutional debt

Blog Post
May 9, 2024

From Debt to Degrees

Evaluating the Ohio College Comeback Compact

Across the US, the number of individuals who started college but stopped out before attaining a degree has continued to grow. Research shows that earning an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or a targeted credential has wide-ranging benefits, from increased lifetime earnings to improved health outcomes. Postsecondary institutions and regional economies also benefit when students re-enroll and complete programs. Returning students face unique challenges to re-enrollment and completion, and this is especially true for students with past-due balances at their…
Research Report
May 9, 2024

Removing the Institutional Debt Hurdle

Findings from an Evaluation of the Ohio College Comeback Compact

This report provides findings from the evaluation of the pilot year of the Ohio College Comeback Compact, an institutional debt cancellation program being implemented at eight public institutions in northeast Ohio. Administrative holds preventing re-enrollment leave students unable to realize the benefits of a postsecondary credential. Fortunately, a number of initiatives and policies, including the Ohio College Comeback Compact, have sought to alleviate this barrier for students.
Blog Post
April 25, 2024

Removing Barriers to Re-Enrollment for Adult Learners

Announcing A New Technical Assistance Project in Kentucky

In collaboration with the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education (CPE), Ithaka S+R is providing research and consulting to identify barriers to re-enrolling adult learners who have stopped out and assess intervention opportunities to improve adult learner re-enrollment in Kentucky. This project builds on Ithaka S+R’s prior research, implementation, and evaluation efforts to address stranded credits—credits that students have earned but cannot access because of administrative holds placed by the college or university they previously attended as collateral…
Past Event
May 1, 2024

Adult Learner Re-Engagement in Pennsylvania

Informational Webinar with PDE and Ithaka S+R

On Wednesday May 1 at 11:00am-12:00pm ET, join the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Ithaka S+R for a webinar providing practical information on how higher education institutions in Pennsylvania can better support adult learners. By working with students to resolve past due balances and administrative holds, institutions are able to enroll students who were previously blocked from returning to college. Register to attend by Friday, April 19 to learn about strategies to engage, enroll, and support adult…
Blog Post
November 30, 2023

Improving Data Collection and Management Practices to Understand Stranded Credits

Institutional debt is an understudied and overlooked type of student debt that hinders stopped-out students’ ability to complete or further their education. This specific debt often results in “stranded credits”—earned credits that students cannot access because their former institution is withholding their transcript or blocking registration until they settle their unpaid balance. Institution record systems are not designed to facilitate easy access to understanding who is affected by stranded credits. But, with small changes and greater collaboration, institutions…
Blog Post
November 9, 2023

Who Has Stranded Credits?

Insights from a New Ithaka S+R Survey

In August 2022, the Ohio College Comeback Compact (“Ohio Compact” or “Compact”) was launched to offer a pathway to re-enrollment for stopped-out college students with stranded credits in the Northeast Ohio region. The Compact allows stopped-out students to return to any of the eight participating public colleges and universities despite owing institutional debt and having their transcript withheld. Through the Compact, students are eligible to receive up to $5,000 in debt forgiveness and a release of their transcript…
Research Report
November 9, 2023

Institutional Supports for Students with Stranded Credits

Survey Results from the Ohio College Comeback Compact

As of 2023, 43.6 million borrowers owe more than $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. The burden of debt negatively impacts borrowers' ability to provide for their families, purchase a car, or buy a home. However, there is another, often overlooked, institutional debt that students may owe their former institutions after stopping out. It is estimated that 6.6 million students owe $15 billion in unpaid balances to their institutions.
Blog Post
November 8, 2023

Op-Ed in The Hill Highlights Opportunities Following Education Department’s New Transcript Withholding Ban

Almost exactly three years after Ithaka S+R first published national research on “stranded credits”—credits that students have earned but can’t access because their college is holding their transcript and blocking registration until they pay a balance due—the federal government is on the verge of eliminating transcript withholding as a debt collection practice. In a new op-ed in The Hill, we discuss a package of regulations issued by the US Education Department and aimed at protecting beneficiaries of…
Blog Post
January 10, 2023

New Jersey Poised to Become Ninth State to Ban Transcript Withholding—But Only Sometimes

Over the last 13 months, New Jersey state legislators have considered four bills related to transcript withholding—or the practice of postsecondary institutions withholding a student’s transcript until they have paid their full balance. It appears now that the state may be one step closer to banning the practice—but only some of the time. Assembly Bill 1198 was recently assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee, which may now move forward with discussing, debating, and amending the legislation before sending…
Blog Post
August 31, 2022

The Importance and Risks of Institutional Borrowing

New Report with TIAA Institute

While student loan debt has ballooned to over $1.7 trillion, institutional debt, or money colleges and universities borrow as organizations, is frequently overlooked as a significant factor in higher education finance. With support from the TIAA Institute, Ithaka S+R examined institutional borrowing practices. Specifically, we examined how periods of crisis and financial strain impact the decision to borrow and identified institutional characteristics linked to growth in debt levels during the 2008 Great Recession.
Research Report
August 30, 2022

Borrowing During a Time of Crisis

Examining Institutional Debt During the Great Recession and COVID-19

Although a great deal of attention is paid to student debt, colleges and universities have increased their institutional debt substantially over the past several decades. While institutional borrowing is an important tool colleges can use to meet strategic goals, unchecked or irresponsible debts can undercut a college’s ability to adequately serve students. Ithaka S+R conducted a mixed methods study, with the generous support of the TIAA Institute, to better understand how institutional borrowing decisions are made during periods of crisis.
Blog Post
August 2, 2022

New Opportunity for Stopped-Out College Students in Northeast Ohio to Settle Debt and Access Stranded Credits

Ohio College Comeback Compact Launches Summer 2022

Thousands of college students in Northeast Ohio who left school without a degree and owe money to their former college now have a pathway back to settle the debt and continue their education. Beginning this month, the Ohio College Comeback Compact is contacting approximately 15,000 students with a new proposition: come back to any public college in the region, even if you owe money and your transcript is being held because of it. Eligible students who…
Blog Post
December 8, 2021

A Sustainable Solution to Settle Students’ Debt and Release Stranded Credits

Ithaka S+R and Eight Ohio Public Institutions Announce Promising New Pilot

Since publishing our first report on the subject in October 2020, Ithaka S+R has been at the forefront of defining the problem of stranded credits. We are now moving ahead with testing a potentially groundbreaking solution. “Stranded credits” are credits that students have earned but can’t access because their former institution is holding their transcript as collateral for an unpaid balance to the institution. Ninety-five percent of…