New Bill to Provide More Information About College Outcomes

The House has apparently introduced bipartisan legislation to end the college “blackout” and provide information to incoming students about college outcomes.

Under the bill prospective students will have access information from colleges about graduate earnings, graduation rates, as well as student loan burdens and repayment rates for both graduates and dropouts. They’ll also have information about the percentage of students who go on to graduate school, law school, etc.

According to a piece by the New America Foundation’s Amy Laitinen:

The House introduced a bill with high-profile bi-partisan cosponsors that would “Free up information that currently exists, but is not currently accessible” in order to provide students, families, taxpayers, and policy makers with answers to critical questions about college outcomes and value.

This is a welcome change from a kick-the-can-down-the-road-by-calling-for-another-study approach to data that the House proposed last year.

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Furthermore, this bill would also help show how schools are serving specific students, because it would “enable these outcome measures to be disaggregated by Pell, Stafford, and GI benefit status.”

This bill is oddly bipartisan, and enjoys the support of both Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Reps. Susan Davis (D-CA), and John Carney (D-DE). The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), among others.

The author of the piece points out that it’s really a little odd we don’t have access to this information already. It is, after all, taxpayer money that’s providing all of these student loans. It certainly makes sense for most of this stuff to be available to be publicly available.

It is possible for researchers to figure out a lot of this information. It makes up a lot of our annual college ranking every year, after all. But it’s not at all easy to find this stuff, despite the fact that it’s really pretty basic, and the most important financial decision many young people now make in their lives.

I don’t have a whole lot of hope for this one—once the higher education lobby gets a hold of this they’re going to try to eliminate or obscure a lot of information. But it’s certainly time to debate this one. The average student borrower now graduates with some $28,400 in student loans. Shouldn’t they know what they’re buying?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer