Plan a Holds Assessment

The experiences of the 12 public postsecondary institutions in the No Holding Back project were the basis for a guide to planning a basic institutional holds assessment that can be used flexibly and tailored to various institutional settings.

Browse selected content from the detailed guide in the sections below

We strongly recommend taking an ‘interdisciplinary’ approach to reviewing policies and practices on holds, including representation from a number of units who have a stake in student progression and completion.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Holds may be used in different ways by the operational units within an institution. To fully understand the origins and justification of specific holds, and to encourage buy-in for potential changes to holds policies, representatives of these units should be consulted and involved in a holds assessment.

The units to involve in the assessment might include:

The registrar

Institutional research

Finance/student accounts


Student affairs leadership

Administrative champions or leadership

See more in the detailed PDF.

You will reveal both positive and negative evidence and patterns. We found that tuition remissions programs are supporting Pell students as intended. And that new students, Black students, indigenous students, and first-generation students are experiencing greater negative impacts.

Portland State University

Working collaboratively, a cross-functional team can identify what information is important and compelling for the institutions’ unique holds assessment. A cross-functional team can acknowledge the various perspectives and capital that coalesce around institutional financial health and student success. For example:

Campus leadership may wish to proactively respond to external pressures or demonstrate the institution’s commitment to support students by limiting the use of holds, while also maintaining institutional viability.

Financial units can share expertise concerning tuition revenue, financial obligations, documentation, payment deadlines and options, past due account balances, and debt collection regulations.

Records and admission units can bring the perspective of admissions requirements, legally mandated forms and documentation, and requirements for credit evaluation and credit portability.

Enrollment units contribute knowledge around student enrollment targets, the roles of various types of students in enrollment levels (such as new students, transfer students, returning and re-enrolling students).

Student affairs units can provide insights on the academic and personal needs of students, as well as perspectives on student equity, progress and success.

See more in the detailed PDF.

Data retention, storage and integrity is essential for examining policies and their impact on student success.

Portland State University

Compiling and analyzing the available data about holds from your student information system and other information management systems is a foundational part of a holds assessment.


An available Technical Guide for Assessing Administrative Holds with Data and accompanying workbook provide a basic replicable framework for quantitative analysis of holds. Download these tools and see examples and perspectives from other institutions in the Data and Evidence guide.

When we discontinued placing registration holds on students in poor academic standing, their responsiveness to notifications of required actions dropped only by 1%.

California State University-Fullerton

An administrative holds usage assessment must include both a systematic inventory of and an understanding about the policies, regulations, administrative requirements, and institutional guidance governing holds. From this, institutions may also discover where there is discretion the use of holds, and where there is possibility for improvement.

The Policy Influences guide outlines the types of federal, state, governing system, and other influences identified by the institutions in the No Holding Back project, and other useful insights, for institutions considering an assessment of their own holds policies and practices.

Based on what is learned from the policy inventory, institutions may find opportunities for improvements.

See more in the detailed PDF.

We are beginning conversations with stakeholders on alternative methods for student support beyond the hold, in hopes to eliminate several student success holds.

University of Arizona

Include student feedback about their experience with holds, in your holds assessment. This can be especially useful for things that cannot be revealed by data, for example:

Contributing factors to observed patterns in hold usage that vary by type of student

Preferred methods of communication

Why students do not respond to certain types of communications

The Student Perspectives guide details the perspectives of 50 students from 10 of the participating institutions about their experience with holds and includes sample material for student focus groups or interviews.


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