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tag: Stranded credits

Blog Post
February 13, 2024

No Longer Stranded?

How New Department of Education Rule Creates Opportunities for Students and Institutions

In 2020, Ithaka S+R estimated that approximately 6.6 million students did not have access to their educational transcripts due to past due balances, resulting in stranded credits. This challenge may impact any student, but our research indicated it was more likely to affect students who identified as women, racial and ethnic minorities, and those from low-income backgrounds. During our initial investigation of stranded credits, we found that nearly all higher education institutions used transcript holds as a tool to…
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
September 27, 2023

After Successful Pilot, the Ohio College Comeback Compact Moves to Full Implementation

The Ohio College Comeback Compact successfully concluded its pilot year, demonstrating proof of concept for a novel program aimed at re-enrolling college students with stranded credits and settling the institutional debt they owed their former institutions. The Compact is advancing to a full implementation at the eight original public colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio for the 2023-24 academic year. And, with generous support from Lumina Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation, Ithaka S+R will be…
Past Event
November 8, 2023

Four Perspectives on Re-Enrolling Adult Learners and Supporting Them Through Completion

In this session at the CAEL Conference on November 8 at 1:40-2:30pm ET in Key Ballroom 1, panelists will discuss the challenges they see and their approaches to supporting adults to complete their postsecondary education. Ithaka S+R’s Liz Looker will speak on stranded credits and Ithaka S+R’s projects to support adult learners seeking to complete their credentials, including the Ohio College Comeback Compact. Other panelists include Steve Ast, Mike Krause, and Dr. Mark Sorrells. Learn more about the…
Past Event
September 12, 2023

Solving the Stranded Credits Problem

Today, 6.6 million students are facing the challenge of “stranded credits”—credits that cannot be transferred between colleges. In a system of competing higher ed institutions, a never-ending discussion on which courses count toward credits has resulted in a portion of the US population left in a perpetual state of near-completion toward a degree. Sometimes, these students have unpaid bills to colleges, so their transcripts are withheld. Underprivileged students are often disproportionately affected. In an upcoming virtual forum on September…
Past Event
November 9, 2023

Increasing Adult Learner Enrollment and Resolving Stranded Credits

“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 institutions withhold transcripts when students have a balance, and Ithaka S+R estimates that 6.6 million students nationally have stranded credits. Like student loan debt, stranded credits are inequitably distributed: institutions with higher shares of students of color and Pell-eligible students are estimated to have more former students…
Past Event
May 18, 2023

Martin Kurzweil at (Re)Engage Alabama

On May 18, Martin Kurzweil and Kent State University’s Chris Dorsten will talk about stranded credits and the Ohio College Comeback Compact at the (Re)Engage Alabama Convening in Montgomery, Alabama.
Past Event
August 7, 2023

Bans, Compacts, and Collections… Oh My! State Approaches to Addressing Stranded Credits

Institutions and states are facing increasing pressures to stop the practice of withholding student transcripts for failure to pay balances in full. In fact, over half of states have enacted or considered policies on this issue over the past several years. The Department of Education and the CFPB have also weighed in with guidance and new policies. In this session at the 2023 SHEEO Higher Education Policy Conference, leaders from three states that have taken unique approaches to addressing…
Past Event
April 3, 2023

Innovative Approaches to Re-Enrollment, Retention, and Completion

Supporting Undergraduate College Students

Declines in enrollment and retention are increasingly common challenges in higher education. At the 2023 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Annual Conference on April 3, 2023, Brittany Pearce and Daniel Rossman will present a session addressing the issue. The presenters will share research and explore two solutions that can inform practice: retention and completion grants and addressing stranded credits. Participants will learn about how these new approaches can help students and higher education institutions. Through an interactive activity,…
Past Event
April 27, 2023

Holistic Credit Mobility: Centering Learning in Credential Completion

Session at the WICHE Academic Leadership Forum

At the 2023 Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Academic Leadership Forum, Martin Kurzweil and Chau-Fang Lin will present on holistic credit mobility and the framework for centering learning in credential completion, sharing findings from an Ithaka S+R issue brief funded by the Ascendium Education Group. The session is schedule for Thursday, April 27 at 11:15 – 12:15 pm.
Past Event
February 22, 2023

Holistic Credit Mobility

An Innovative Framework to Foster Credit and Learning Mobility

On Wednesday, February 22 from 2:50 – 3:40 pm PST at the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students Conference, Sarah Pingel will present on Ithaka S+R’s holistic credit mobility project with Ascendium Education Group’s Carolynn Lee. The session will define the concept of holistic credit mobility and propose a framework to understand how higher education can be responsive to the needs of today’s mobile students. The session will include worked examples that allow participants to…
Blog Post
November 30, 2022

Supporting Mobile Students to Credential Completion through Holistic Credit Mobility

People learn in more places than ever before—earning credits from high school or dual enrollment courses, picking up certifications for job advancement, gaining experience through the military, and more. While many colleges, universities, and employers have begun translating this accumulated learning into transcriptable credits, students frequently find that institutions will not count their previously accumulated credits.
Issue Brief
November 16, 2022

Holistic Credit Mobility

Centering Learning in Credential Completion

In this issue brief, we introduce holistic credit mobility as a framework for making sense of contemporary student mobility and devising solutions that center the success of mobile students with multiple forms and sources of validated learning. In the sections that follow, we define holistic credit mobility and highlight strategies to support its effective deployment throughout postsecondary institutions and systems.
Blog Post
October 11, 2022

CFPB Ends Transcript Withholding for Students Owing Institutional Loans

Last week, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued new guidance that postsecondary institutions cannot withhold academic transcripts from students owing past due institutional loan payments. The action is part of a series of decisions aimed at regulating institutionally-based aid programs such as loans and Income Share Agreements, or ISAs. This move protects some students with stranded credits, or credits students have earned but cannot document because of a past due balance.
Blog Post
August 15, 2022

Stranded Credits: State-Level Actions and Opportunities

Over the past several years, state and federal regulators have increasingly scrutinized the practice of transcript withholding. As of June 15, 2022, five states have pending bills and eight states have enacted bills that prohibit postsecondary institutions from withholding transcripts. Without transcript holds, students will be able to re-enroll in college, transfer to an institution that better fits their needs, apply for jobs that require postsecondary degrees, and potentially be in a better position to pay off their educational debt.
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…
Issue Brief
July 7, 2022

Lost and Found: State and Institutional Actions to Resolve Stranded Credits

This brief provides a roadmap for stakeholders interested in the underlying practices that create stranded credits and what can be done to improve them. To begin, we provide specific definitions of the terms and practices implicated in the creation of stranded credits. While researchers and policy leaders have increased their attention on the problem of stranded credits, this brief lays out in detail how they are created, why they matter, and what can be done to better balance the interests.