032922HAO01398SPRINGFIELD – Universities will no longer be able to withhold transcripts from students who have not yet paid off their tuition balance, thanks to a new law led by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview).

“As a former professor, I have witnessed firsthand the immense sacrifices, including taking on debt, students undertake to earn their degree and pursue a fulfilling career,” Fine said. “The practice of withholding transcripts can make it harder for students to find the necessary employment to pay off their debts. This law will ensure students have access to the documents they have earned through hard work, regardless of outstanding debt.”

Under Fine’s legislation, universities will be prohibited from withholding unofficial transcripts as a means of debt collection. Employers will be able to request official transcripts of those students seeking employment. Fine’s legislation will also require colleges and universities to institute a hardship policy, which will help students who have to drop out of a school due to an illness or significant financial burden the ability to re-enroll at a later date. Lastly, SB 3032 ensures debt collection agencies cannot use a past due debt with a college or university against a student’s credit rating.

“Students often go into debt with the expectation that their degree will give them the opportunity to get a well-paying job, which will help them pay off their loans,” Fine said. “Withholding transcripts, a practice  that disproportionately impacts low-income or minority populations, creates additional barriers to financial independence. This law will give a pathway for students to pursue a career with the degree they earned while working to repay their debts.”

Senate Bill 3032 was signed into law May 27, 2022. It will go into effect immediately.