ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation Wednesday that prohibits colleges from withholding student transcripts due to unpaid debts or charging individuals who owe debts a higher fee to obtain their transcripts.

According to the governor, this legislation will ensure that students can access their transcripts when necessary so they may continue their education, or find a job.

“Transcripts are critical for students to continue pursuing their educational and career goals,” Gov. Hochul said. “To hold transcripts hostage until outstanding debts are paid is an unfair, predatory practice that prevents our students from reaching their full potential. I was proud to make ending transcript withholding a top priority and took action to end this practice at SUNY and CUNY in January. Today, we put an end to this abhorrent policy for all higher education institutions to ensure a level playing field for New York’s students.”

Officials from the governor’s office say the tactic of withholding student transcripts or overcharging for their release has been used by some colleges in New York to leverage debt collection, but they say it’s a “punitive measure that penalizes students with less resources while ironically making it more difficult for them to advance in higher education or obtain employment that would allow them to make the outstanding payments.”

Earlier this year, the SUNY and CUNY boards each voted to end the practice.