CUNY stops holding back student transcripts due to outstanding debt


Iraj Zia | The Ticker

Rachel Dalloo

CUNY announced on Aug. 11 that it will cancel student debt of thousands of students in an effort to allow them the opportunity to continue their education.

“Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that CUNY adapt its policies to meet the evolving needs of post-pandemic New Yorkers,” Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said. “Releasing student transcripts and eliminating financial holds, regardless of a person’s financial status, is the most pragmatic and compassionate way forward in this challenging climate. These actions continue the push to keep all CUNY students moving ahead on a path toward success.”

Matos Rodríguez cleared the outstanding student debt charges of approximately 74,000 students enrolled during the semesters of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a CUNY report.

This act will pave the way for those students to register for the fall 2021 semester, as the debt will no longer affect their academic status.

This decision connects to another newly announced initiative, the CUNY Comeback Program, which was introduced in July by former New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Together with the CUNY Comeback Program, these policy changes reaffirm our commitment to CUNY’s mission by making it significantly easier for tens of thousands of students to continue their educational goals or enter the workplace and assist in the City’s ongoing economic recovery,” Matos Rodríguez said.

The program will help to forgive some $125 million in unpaid institutional debt for at least 50,000 students and recent graduates, according to the report.

“CUNY students showed their great resilience in the face of the immeasurable hardships they faced over the past 16 months, from employment and income loss to food and housing insecurity, amid an unprecedented health crisis that brought sickness and tragedy to thousands of New York families,” Matos Rodríguez said.

Students who are eligible to have their outstanding balances cleared from their CUNYFirst accounts will be able to have their debts removed. CUNY graduates will also be able to access their official transcripts.

“This compassionate action will allow CUNY students and recent graduates to move ahead in pursuit of their educational and career objectives without the specter of unpaid tuition and fees,” he added. “This landmark measure will also enhance CUNY’s important contributions to New York’s economic recovery.”

Nicholas Kochnev, a political science major, shared his opinion on the news with The Ticker via a Google form.

“It’s not the best move, but I see why they do it,” he said. “It motivates students to become more financially literate and ensures CUNY can support its resources at full capacity. This is not the best time because of pandemic-related economic crisis and historic unemployment rates. However, if not now, when? Student debt is a serious issue in this country.”

In pursuit of addressing the growing concern of student debt across the country, many colleges and universities are now leaning to reevaluate their standard practice of withholding the official transcripts.