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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington House passes bill to release college transcripts regardless of fees

Bryan Clock Tower glows at dawn on the WSU Campus in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Daisy Zavala

OLYMPIA - College graduates could get their transcript even if there’s a hold on their account due to unpaid parking or library fees, under a bill that passed the House.

“We want them to take the next step to building their future, to go into the workforce or complete their education,” said bill sponsor Rep. Vandana Slatter, D-Bellevue.

Universities and colleges couldn’t deny students their transcripts because of unpaid fees under the bill. Universities could only withhold a transcript if a student has not paid tuition fees and could only withhold registration privileges if there’s unpaid tuition or room and board.

A proposed amendment would have required a study on the withholding of transcripts and collected information on what colleges did before their unpaid fees were sent to debt collectors, said Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden.

“We heard in testimony that the average student debt is somewhere around $2,000 per student,” she said.

Withholding transcripts for unpaid debt is an important tool for colleges to have, Van Werven said. If they can’t use that tool, they may send debts to a collection agency quicker, which will have long-term impacts on a student’s financial history, she said

But studying the system wouldn’t provide the assistance students need, Slatter said. “We need to begin by helping them now.”

Lawmakers are collecting information from universities across the state on withholding transcripts, Slatter said.

Van Werven’s amendment failed on a voice vote.

The bill that passed would require colleges and universities to report to the state annually on their transcript withholding practices.

Many colleges withhold transcripts, which limits a student’s ability to use them to apply for financial assistance or for jobs, Slatter said.

The bill was passed to the Senate on a 59-39 vote.