Lakeland Community College is one of eight Northeast Ohio community colleges and public universities joining the nonprofit, Ithaka S+R, in the Stranded Credits Compact. The objective of the Compact is to pilot a sustainable solution to settle student debt and release stranded credits.
Ithaka S+R explains stranded credits as “credits that students have earned but can’t access because their former institution is holding their transcript as collateral for an unpaid balance to the institution.” Their research shows that 95% of institutions withhold transcripts when students have a balance.
Stranded credits have a snowball effect. When students have an unpaid balance with the college, they are unable to receive their transcripts, which are necessary for transferring to other colleges and may be necessary when seeking employment. In addition, the college loses money and economic development in the community may be hindered due to the obstruction of education and training for in-demand jobs.
“We are excited to be a part of this Compact working with area two- and four-year colleges in tackling administrative barriers that have historically prevented students from completing their degree or certificate,” said Melissa Amspaugh, senior director for enrollment operations. “Stranded credits tied to debt, resulting in the withholding of college transcripts is an obstacle to student success. It is not only detrimental to our students and their future goals, but also to the college and the community.”
The eight Northeast Ohio schools participating in the Stranded Credits Compact are: Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, Kent State University, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Stark State College, the University of Akron, and Youngstown State University. Their work on this pilot program has the potential to become a statewide, and even nationwide model. Learn more at Ithaka.
In addition, Lakeland also announced a College Comeback program. The program will forgive up to a $1,500 balance, and is designed to bring stop-out students back to campus and encourage the completion of a degree or certificate.
“Our hope is that this program will allow some students, who have not been permitted to register for classes due to a debt on their record, to come back this spring semester while paying down their balance through debt forgiveness,” said Amspaugh.
The college has identified and contacted just over 200 students who meet the eligibility requirements.