March 15, 2019
This week, the College Transparency Act (CTA) was re-introduced in the House and Senate by a bipartisan group of legislators. By allowing the creation of a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary data system, this bipartisan, bicameral bill would help students and families, policymakers, institutions and employers to make informed choices by providing better information about college access, success, costs, and outcomes.
Without this information, students and families are not empowered to make well-informed choices about their education, policymakers and institutions cannot craft evidence-based policies to help students succeed, and employers do not have the talent pipeline they need to grow the economy. Without complete, representative data that counts all students, equity is out of reach.
The bill overturns the ban on student-level data collection in the Higher Education Act so that accurate reporting on student outcomes – from enrollment, completion and post-college success across colleges and programs – can be provided in a transparent, user-friendly way. It ensures data is available disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and income status to identify inequities in students’ success. And it ensures that students’ privacy is protected and remains safe and secure, protecting students with limitations on what data can be collected and how those data can be used.
CTA does all of this without increasing burdens for colleges and universities. It streamlines burdensome federal reporting requirements for postsecondary institutions and leverages existing data by matching a limited set of data to calculate aggregate information to answer questions critical to understanding and improving student success. In fact, the bill provides critical information to those institutions – and to states – so they can develop and implement targeted, data-informed strategies aimed at supporting student success.
Students and taxpayers have a right to know what they can expect in return for their college investment. 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 burden.
That is why we are coming together to urge Congress to pass the College Transparency Act to provide accurate, timely, and high-quality aggregate data in a user-friendly, transparent way for students and families, policymakers, institutions and employers who have a right to know answers to key questions about student access and success.
We hope you will join New America and the Institute for Higher Education Policy in calling on Congress to support the bill by signing on to this statement.