fine committee march2023SPRINGFIELD – Obtaining official transcripts can be a roadblock for college and university students across Illinois if they owe a past-due debt to the institution. This can hamper their efforts to pursue post-graduate opportunities. State Senator Laura Fine introduced legislation to address this issue, making transcripts more accessible to students, as well as requiring universities to make the process of withholding transcripts more transparent.

“Whether a student is seeking employment or further education after graduation, they will likely need their transcript to demonstrate their academic record and achievements in higher education,” said Fine (D-Glenview). “This legislation will help students who may be struggling financially access  their transcripts.”

Senator Fine, who is a former college instructor,  is a longtime advocate of supporting university students working to pay off their student debt. Last year, she passed legislation prohibiting universities from withholding transcripts from students with a past-due debt if the transcript is needed for a job application. This ensured students would be able to use their hard-earned transcripts to find a well-paying job, from which they could repay their debts to the university and pursue a career best suited to the skill set they developed in college.

Senate Bill 49 would expand on this legislation by requiring institutions to provide official transcripts to current or former students if the student requires the transcript to transfer to a different institution, to apply for financial aid, to join the U.S. Armed Forces or to pursue other post-secondary opportunities. The measure also would require higher education institutions to outline the process a current or former student must go through to obtain a transcript or diploma that has been withheld due to debt to the university — making sure students have a clear path to receive their transcripts if they are being withheld.

“A student’s debt does not negate their hard work and academic success,” said Fine. “This initiative will guarantee they are able to access their transcripts to pursue further education, apply for jobs, or transfer to other institutions based on their achievements..”

Senate Bill 49 passed the Higher Education committee on Tuesday, March 7. It now goes to the Senate floor for debate.