WICHE and AACRAO Receive $452,500 in Grants to Study Administrative Holds

  • Year Published : 2022
  • Month Published : May

BOULDER, Colorado – Lumina Foundation and Ascendium Education Group have jointly awarded $452,500 in grants to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) to help institutions better understand the impact that the practice and policies of administrative holds can have on student success.

An administrative hold is a type of restriction imposed on students by their college or university for various reasons, such as overdue debts or missing library books. A hold is used to prompt the student to act and address the institution’s administrative need and may prevent a student from accessing services, obtaining transcripts, registering for future classes, or matriculating on time. While most holds are resolved, research indicates administrative hold practices and policies may disproportionately affect first-generation students, students of color, and students from low-income backgrounds.

“Student access to high-quality academic programs is core to WICHE’s mission and our work,” said Dr. Raymonda “Ray” Burgman, vice president, programs and services. “To retain students at our region’s postsecondary institutions, we must more fully understand various facets of the student experience.”

The project will collaboratively build upon existing work by AACRAO. Twelve postsecondary institutions in the WICHE region will be selected from a pool of applications to participate in a year-long workshop; WICHE is expected to announce a call for proposals at the end of this month. Institution teams comprised of registrars, business officers, academic affairs leaders, and institutional researchers will gain the tools to evaluate their administrative holds policies and better use data in their policy formation. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a technical handbook, webinars, and a comprehensive report on the findings to enable other institutions to replicate this work.

“AACRAO envisions a community centered on learner success,” said Melanie Gottlieb, executive director of AACRAO. “We encourage our member institutions to seek means other than the use of transcript holds for the purposes of collecting trivial or minor debt. We also understand that the ability to use holds to prompt a student to take an action is one of the few resources in an institution’s toolkit that supports student success. In fact, some view it as a vital part of a student success program. However, these programs have significant room for improvement.”

WICHE and AACRAO are grateful to Lumina Foundation and Ascendium for the opportunity this grant provides to better inform the student success work of their institutions. To kick off the project, WICHE is hosting a free one-hour webinar, No Holding Back: Administrative Holds Policies and Practices, at Noon MT on May 18 with panelists from AACRAO, Education Commission of the States, Ithaka S+R, and National Association of College and University Business Officers. The webinar is open to the public.


AACRAO is a non-profit, voluntary, professional association of more than 11,000 higher education professionals representing approximately 2,600 institutions in more than 40 countries. Its commitment to the professional development of its members includes best practice guidance on admissions strategies to meet institutional diversity objectives, delivery of academic programs in innovative ways to meet the needs of a changing student body, and exemplary approaches to student retention and completion.

About Lumina Foundation
Lumina is an independent, private foundation based in Indianapolis committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. It envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Its goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

About Ascendium Education Group
Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Ascendium’s work identifies, validates and expands best practices to promote large scale change at the institutional, system and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit ascendiumphilanthropy.org.

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