College is an expensive item and it’s imperative that, in our information age, real actionable data is available to those about to buy a ticket.
That’s what the bipartisan pairing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bill Casssidy (R-LA) believe, and they are reintroducing their College Transparency Act (CTA) with a goal of helping students and families gain “better information as they consider higher education opportunities.”
College is a catchall term that hardly defines a single product — college surely isn’t the same product for an MIT engineering student, an English major at Oberlin, or drama student at Ole Miss.
Yet even if students selecting these varying disciplines are purchasing very different products, the CTA still seeks to attach standardized data to those products so — as with tires or car batteries — reasonable comparisons can be made before families commit to a life-changing investment.
Sen. Mitt Romney is among a large group of lawmakers joining the effort. “With the rising costs of tuition,” Romney said, “it is important for students and their families to have the most information available to them when deciding where to attend college and how much debt to assume.
The law would be particularly helpful, perhaps, in assessing the value of community colleges, which offer students a pathway to four-year degrees. Warren specified that required data would include transfer rates, an important metric for community college assessment.
The most controversial aspect, especially for the GOP “Big Government” detractors among the bill’s supporters, is its treatment of the storage of student data in a national database that would even include post-degree salary information.
It's important for students to have as much information as possible when deciding where to attend college and how much debt to assume. Our bipartisan bill would help ensure students are well-equipped to make the best decision regarding their future. https://t.co/rT2js13vIA— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) May 8, 2023
The National Center for Education Statistics “would be responsible for securely storing student information, working with relevant federal agencies to generate post-college outcomes reports.” Supposedly secure data in the hands of lots of federal agencies doesn’t always sit well with those who rail against government overreach.
[“Under the updated system,” Romney’s release says, “institutions would securely report privacy-protected, student-level data to the National Center for Education Statistics.”]
Yet a who’s who of bipartisan lawmakers joined Warren, Romney and Cassidy, including Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).