May 16, 2017

Whitehouse Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Equip Students and Families with Better Data for Making College Choices College Transparency Act would improve reporting of student outcomes

College Transparency Act would improve reporting of student outcomes

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced bipartisan legislation to overhaul and modernize the college reporting system for postsecondary data and provide greater transparency for students, families, institutions, and policymakers.  The College Transparency Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

“College administrators tell me they spend too much of their time and resources on federal data reporting mandates.  At the same time, Rhode Islanders tell me they often can’t find useful information to help them figure out where to go to college.  They can’t even get answers to basic questions like what they’ll earn with a given major, what sort of student loan debt they’ll carry, and whether or not a community college gives them a reasonable shot at transferring to four-year school,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.  “The College Transparency Act works to fix these problems by easing the burden on schools, gathering more useful information, and putting it at students and parents’ fingertips.”

The College Transparency Act of 2017 will help students and families get information they can use as they consider their opportunities beyond high school.  This information, such as enrollment, completion, and post-college success across colleges and majors, will tell students how others have succeeded at an institution, and help point them towards schools best suited to their needs and goals.

“The University of Rhode Island is committed to our students’ success and congratulates Senator Whitehouse for ensuring more useful and comprehensive data is shared with prospective students and their families,” said David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island.  “One of the greatest decisions a young person and their family will make is where to attend college and at URI we believe better outcome data should be available to inform this important decision.

The current college reporting system is overly burdensome on institutions, yet provides little practical information for students and families due to significant gaps in the data colleges report.  Under the bill, institutions would securely report privacy-protected, student-level data to the National Center for Education Statistics.  The Center would be responsible for securely storing student information, working with relevant federal agencies to generate reports, and making the information available on a user-friendly website for students and families.

This legislation is supported by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community College Trustees, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Rebuilding America’s Middle Class, the Software & Information Industry Association,  Student Veterans of America, The Institute for College Access and Success, Third Way, Veterans Education Success, the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, and Young Invincibles.


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