Stranded Credits: What Have We Learned and What Are We Doing

"In a new brief for Ithaka S+R, with support from Lumina Foundation, Howard University education professor Dr. Sosanya Jones and graduate student Melody Andrews (also a former Ithaka S+R intern) use an innovative social media outreach strategy to gather and amplify the voices of dozens of individuals across the country who either have stranded credits or work with those who do. 

Some of the brief’s key findings include:

  • Stranded credits disproportionately affect students of color and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Stranded credits impact students’ academic and career trajectories, can mean the difference between stopping out and dropping out, affect financial aid eligibility, and have a detrimental impact on students’ psychological well being.
  • Stranded credits prevent students from taking advantage of the financial and career opportunities that could help settle their institutional debt.
  • Institutional bureaucracy sometimes contributes to the accumulation of institutional debt, particularly for first generation students who are unfamiliar with how to navigate the collegiate environment.
  • Because there are restrictions on the use of federal aid and very few financing options, students usually have to settle their outstanding debt with personal funding. 
  • Payment plans to settle institutional debt are not necessarily helpful for students who are experiencing financial instability. 
  • Debt relief programs offer students an opportunity to address their institutional debt while also continuing their matriculation."

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