The College Transparency Act will provide students and families with critical information to inform their college choices, colleges and universities with the data to better target interventions and support student success, policymakers with information to comprehensively measure the outcomes of policy reforms and investments, and employers with data to strengthen their talent pipeline. As our nation looks to rebuild from the COVID-19 public health crisis, higher education stakeholders cannot wait any longer for this needed policy change.
* * *
To: The Honorable
Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy,
The Postsecondary Data Collaborative (PostsecData) and the
This strongly bipartisan, bicameral bill would help students and families, policymakers, institutions and employers to make informed decisions by providing more complete information about college access, success, costs, and outcomes. This information empowers students and families to make well-informed choices about their education, policymakers and institutions to craft evidence-based policies to help students succeed, and employers to navigate the talent pipeline they need to grow the economy. Without complete, representative data that counts all students, equity will be out of reach.
The research is abundantly clear: Investing in a college education pays off. But while college is worth it on average, students, policymakers, institutions and employers cannot answer crucial questions about which postsecondary programs provide an adequate return on investment for which students. Students and taxpayers have a right to know what they can expect in return for their college investment. Yet, existing policies prevent us from answering basic questions, such as:
* What are national completion rates for part-time and transfer students of color?
* How do college access, affordability, and completion vary by race, ethnicity, and income?
* How much do students borrow, and can they repay their loans?
* How many non-completers from a particular college never reenroll, and how many transfer to finish their degree at another institution?
* Which students go on to succeed in the workforce?
Answers to these questions would help students and families choose programs that demonstrate strong outcomes, while helping policymakers and educators to implement policies and practices that help more students succeed. For the marketplace to function effectively, all these stakeholders need access to high-quality information that reflects all types of students and can look at outcomes across state lines. The federal government--with its access to existing data, including on employment and earnings--is uniquely positioned to compile that information, while reducing institutional reporting burdens.
The College Transparency Act:
* Overturns the ban on student-level data collection in the Higher Education Act;
* Creates a secure, privacy protected student-level data network within the
* Accurately reports on student outcomes including enrollment, completion and post-college success across colleges and programs;
* Leverages existing data at federal agencies and institutional data by matching a limited set of data to calculate aggregate information to answer questions critical to understanding and improving student success;
* Protects all students by limiting data disclosures, prohibiting the sale of data, penalizing illegal data use, protecting vulnerable students, prohibiting the use of the data for law enforcement, safeguarding personally identifiable information, and requiring notice to students and regular audits of the system;
* Streamlines burdensome federal reporting requirements for postsecondary institutions;
* Provides information disaggregated by race, ethnicity and Pell Grant receipt status to identify inequities in students' success;
* Requires a user-friendly website to ensure the data are transparent, informative, and accessible for students, parents, policymakers, and employers; and
* Feeds aggregate information back to states and institutions so they can develop and implement targeted, data-informed strategies aimed at supporting student success.
The College Transparency Act represents broad consensus among students, colleges and universities, employers, and policymakers that a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student data system is the only way to give students the information they need to make informed college choices. That is why we are coming together to urge
Achieving the Dream
Aspen Institute College Excellence Program
Chiefs for Change
Colorado Center on Law and Policy
Connecticut State Colleges and Universities
Custom Plastics and More
CWA Southern California Council
Data Quality Campaign
Excelencia in Education
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
Higher Learning Advocates
Jersey City Literacy Program
NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
Naugatuck Adult Education
Northwest WI Workforce Investment Board
Policy Matters Ohio
Pryor Education Insights
Rebuilding America's Middle Class
South Asian Fund For Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST)
Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board
The Bell Policy Center
Women and Families Center-Open DOHR Employment Training