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The House of Representatives Passes the College Transparency Act

Feb 15, 2022

Data concerning student enrollment and postgraduate success metrics at universities is not always readily available and accessible. The College Transparency Act is a bill seeking to “establish a postsecondary data system” that would require higher institutions to release such data. Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed explains that “the result would be much more information about how colleges perform at educating students.”

The House of Representatives passed the College Transparency Act on Friday, February 4th. Jaschik explains that under this act, universities must “collect and submit data to the Department of Education regarding student enrollment, persistence, transfer and completion measures for all programs and degree levels.” The data would be separated by demographics, including age, gender, and race and ethnicity. The Department of Education will periodically be allowed to share limited data with other federal agencies to calculate postgraduate success. Sponsors of the bill insist that students’ privacy won’t be at risk because the data will be aggregated.

Many higher education organizations support the bill and over 150 have already endorsed it. One such organization, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, states that they support the act because it aligns with their policy research “advancing equity in higher education through postsecondary data and transparency.”

Further, Inside Higher Ed quotes a letter from the groups; “this 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.” The College Transparency Act was attached to the America COMPETES Act of 2022. Jaschik explains that while the Senate version of this bill does not currently include the act, supporters of the act are hopeful it will be approved by the Senate committee that reviews the differences between the House and Senate bills. The chief sponsors of the group are bipartisan: two of the Senate sponsors of the bill are Republicans and the other two are Democrats.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has promoted similar ideas, according to this Inside Higher Ed article, also written by Jaschik. The foundation released a report last May emphasizing the importance of economic mobility for everyone. Jaschik further summarizes the report, stating that policymakers, colleges, and students need this data to be public to better understand higher education, for colleges to improve their institutions, and for students to make informed decisions on which school to attend. The Gates Foundation released a statement on the bill’s passing, stressing the importance of collecting and reporting data in an ethical, transparent way. As quoted in Inside Higher Ed, the statement reads, “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation believes students deserve accurate and complete information about college outcomes before investing their time and money, while also protecting their own privacy.”

Information such as student enrollment and postgraduate success should be readily available. We believe in helping students make the most informed decisions possible, so we have assembled information about the top colleges in the United States on our Colleges and Universities page and created a College List Generator that helps students build balanced college lists. We believe this bill is crucial, as it would enable students to make informed decisions when choosing which higher institution to attend, and agree with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that the data should be collected and reported ethically in order to protect students’ privacy.

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