Ivy Tech Community College is upending a standard higher education practice in an effort to remove another financial barrier for students.
All Ivy Tech locations will no longer withhold transcripts from students who owe money. The announcement was made earlier this month and immediately makes transcripts available to 82,000 students statewide. Locally, the move impacts more than 3,000 students who have a hold on their account.
A transcript is like a cross between a report card and medical records. It includes credits attempted, credits earned, classes taken, degrees earned and whether the student graduated.
A transcript is needed if a student transfers to a different institution. The document proves they’ve taken the classes and earned the credits. Without a transcript, students could have to retake classes.
Withholding a transcript from a student can be a hurdle for them continuing their education and career, said Dean McCurdy, chancellor for Ivy Tech Kokomo.
“It’s a common practice in the higher ed industry,” he said. “We’ve decided it’s no longer serving our mission.”
Almost every higher education institution withholds transcripts if a student owes them money. Ninety-eight percent of institutions surveyed by the National Association of College and University Business Officers in 2016 said they withheld transcripts.
The practice is used as leverage for an institution to get students to pay. However, it also can hold students back — especially those who are economically disadvantaged.
McCurdy said students who are most in need are also most likely to have a hold on their account.
“It puts another burden on students that we want to alleviate,” he said. “It really puts you in a difficult situation as a student if you don’t have that.”
Ivy Tech Kokomo has worked and is continuing to remove barriers that students face in making a better life for themselves and their families.
The community college added a mental health counselor, offers an emergency ride service and has an on-campus food pantry.
Ivy Tech Kokomo is in the midst of raising $7.8 million, part of the statewide Invest IN Ivy Tech campaign. Of that, $2 million is earmarked to help students overcome hurdles for college.
“Our primary goal at Ivy Tech Community College is to prepare individuals to achieve their goals and contribute to their families and their communities through high-wage careers,” Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech, said in a statement. “We are working to remove barriers in the way of achieving that goal, and this is a step we can take to move our students toward a better financial future.”
McCurdy said Ivy Tech is likely the first in Indiana to drop the status quo practice — an easy decision among those at Ivy Tech, and one the chancellor is hopeful other college and universities consider.
McCurdy sees far-reaching benefits by allowing students to access their transcript, regardless of financial status with Ivy Tech.
Students will be able to transfer more easily and continue their education and careers. This will also benefit their next institution, as they will gain a student, plus however much money they pay to go there.
“We also think they’ll be more likely to pay us back,” McCurdy said.
But ultimately, the chancellor said, it’s just the right thing to do.
“We decided we are going to do something disruptive,” McCurdy said. “It’s sort of calling out a practice that needs to be reformed.”
Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.