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Free transcripts for all!

As any college student knows, the decision to pursue further education at a university is accompanied by a plethora of extra costs and hidden fees (transcripts, printing, orientation, etc.). Complaints about this situation often echo those concerning cable companies, overcharged cell phone bills, airlines and other industries that make money with hidden costs. Many money-making institutions are guilty of this habit that ultimately hurts and vexes consumers.

Hidden fees within any context usually have the effect of frustrating people, and rightfully so. All higher-education students are aware of certain extra charges– the expected monetary consequences of attending college. For example, it is accepted common knowledge that university textbooks have outrageously high price tags. However, these supplementary costs do not stop at simply textbooks.

These “small” extra fees cease to be small and inconsequential after adding up over the years in pursuit of a degree. This process often ends with empty pockets of students and those who financially support them through their academic journey.

There has yet to be a solid plan implemented, by the government or any other relevant organizations, to alleviate some of the financial burdens college students have in the face of rising tuition rates and the threat of being a slave to debt. All big steps regarding this issue tend to be made up of several smaller ones.

One such step was introduced in the Maryland state legislature during the 2016 regular session on January 26, 2016. The bill was officially named “Institutions of Higher Education – Official Transcripts.” This potential law would require all Maryland schools receiving state funding to provide one free official transcript a semester to eligible students, and once every five years to alumni. It was received unfavorably by the committees two weeks later, and the bill was killed.

Although the bill was shot down in committee almost one year ago, it should not be entirely dismissed. With tuition persistently increasing, even small contributions easing some monetary strain would be welcomed by many college students.

The difficulty of paying a few dollars every once in a blue moon for a transcript is often not considered; however, the cost really does add up, especially when considering just how often students need their official transcripts.

With internships, scholarships, grants, study abroad, research and job opportunities, many UMBC students are already overwhelmed with various activities, job searches and interviews for which they have to prepare. Essentially, all of the these pursuits require an official transcript in order to be considered for the positions or opportunities offered.

There is no way to know how often the average UMBC student will need an official transcript throughout their scholastic career. However, any steps to diminish some of the stress and financial burdens that those aforementioned necessary pursuits create, would be of immense worth to students.

The education mandate proposed during the 2016 session should be revisited during the next legislative meeting. Passing of such a bill certainly would not entirely lessen the economic blow of attending college, but it is a first step worth taking.