ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — On Wednesday, new legislation was signed by the governor that prohibits colleges from withholding student transcripts due to unpaid debts or charging individuals who owe debts a higher fee to obtain their transcripts. The new legislation will ensure that students can access their transcripts when necessary so they may continue their education, or find a job.

Officials from the governor’s office said the tactic of withholding student transcripts or overcharging for their release has been used by some colleges in New York to leverage debt collection. A ‘punitive measure’ that penalizes students with fewer resources while ironically making it more difficult for them to advance in higher education or obtain employment that would allow them to make the outstanding payments, they noted.

“Transcripts are critical for students to continue pursuing their educational and career goals,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “To hold transcripts hostage until outstanding debts are paid is an unfair, predatory practice that prevents our students from reaching their full potential. I was proud to make ending transcript withholding a top priority and took action to end this practice at SUNY and CUNY in January. Today, we put an end to this abhorrent policy for all higher education institutions to ensure a level playing field for New York’s students.”