March 18, 2021

Cassidy, Warren, Scott, Whitehouse Reintroduce College Transparency Act

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today reintroduced the College Transparency Act (CTA), bipartisan legislation to ensure students and families have clear and absorbable information as they consider higher education opportunities. The CTA modernizes the college reporting system for postsecondary data by providing accurate reporting on student outcomes such as enrollment, completion, and post-college earnings across colleges and majors, while ensuring the privacy of individual students is securely protected.

This information will give students a clear understanding of the return on investment in higher education and help point them toward schools and programs of study best suited to their unique needs and desired outcomes. It will also aid institutions of learning and policymakers in their work to improve our country’s post-secondary education system.

Click here for the one-page summary.

“Students already face tremendous pressure when deciding where they want to attend college,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The College Transparency Act allows students and their families to know all the facts before choosing the best school for them.”

“Students deserve a clear picture of how colleges are serving them. That’s why I’m glad to partner with my colleagues on this bipartisan legislation to close glaring gaps in college information transparency so students and their families can make better-informed decisions on higher education,” said Senator Warren.

“Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions that one makes in life. It’s important that we empower students and families to make informed decisions about their educational futures, based on concrete data,” said Senator Scott. “I’m proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reintroduce the College Transparency Act.” 

“Choosing a college is a big decision, and yet too often families can’t get the information to make apples-to-apples comparisons of the costs and benefits of attending different schools,” said Whitehouse. “The College Transparency Act will make the process less opaque so that students and parents can be clear-eyed about what they expect to get out of college, especially if they’re taking on significant debt.”

The U.S. House companion legislation was also introduced today by U.S. Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8), Steve Stivers (R-OH-15), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Joe Wilson (R-SC-2), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) and Bryan Steil (R-WI-1).

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

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds the introduction of the College Transparency Act, as a way to ensure American students have access to accurate information on college affordability, employment and income data by major. This sets our students up for future success and enables them to make decisions about higher education by having knowledge on the return on investment of their time and resources. Providing this transparency to students will help better match students with careers, narrow the skills gap, and therefore make our economy stronger,” said Allison L. Dembeck, Vice President of Education and Labor Advocacy at the U.S Chamber of Commerce

“As our country works to recover from the current health and economic crises, the need for the College Transparency Act has never been more urgent. The bill is critical so that students can know which institutions will provide them with the best return on investment, policymakers can access quality data to target interventions and distribute funds to students and institutions in need, and institutions and employers can enhance opportunities to drive an equitable economic recovery. It will allow existing data to be used to create the postsecondary data system that our students, especially those from low-income backgrounds and students of color, need and deserve – one that is transparent and provides the information required to advance more equitable outcomes for today’s students, while taking seriously the need to protect student privacy,” said Mamie Voight, Interim President at the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

“When students enroll in postsecondary education, they are making one of the most important–and expensive–decisions of their lives, without the benefit of good information on their likelihood of graduating and finding a good job after they leave school. The College Transparency Act, with tremendous bipartisan support, would help to level the playing field, giving students and their families access to the data they need to make smart, informed decisions about their lives and financial futures,” said Amy Laitinen, Director at Higher Education at New America.

“We congratulate and thank the sponsors on the reintroduction of the bipartisan, bicameral College Transparency Act. It is long past time for Congress to pass legislation that provides a much clearer and complete understanding of higher education outcomes. This information will empower students and families as informed consumers, allow policymakers to make evidence-based decisions, and boost colleges and universities’ student success efforts. Public universities’ commitment to students and communities requires they constantly assess their programs and adopt strategies to enhance their impact. CTA will provide critical tools to fuel these efforts,” said Peter McPherson, President of Association of Public and Land-grant Universities