Sen. Scott Joins Bipartisan Group to Introduce Groundbreaking College Transparency Act

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Friday, March 15th, 2019

U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the College Transparency Act (CTA), bipartisan legislation to provide actionable and customizable information for students and families as they consider higher education opportunities. CTA modernizes the college reporting system for postsecondary data by ensuring accurate reporting on student outcomes such as enrollment, completion, and post-college success across colleges and majors, while ensuring the privacy of individual students is securely protected. 

“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.” 

This information will tell students how others with their backgrounds have succeeded at an institution, and help point them towards 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 postsecondary education system.

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.

Supporters of this legislation include:  

“The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) thanks Senators Cassidy, Warren, Scott, and Whitehouse and Representatives Mitchell, Krishnamoorthi, Stefanik, and Harder for the reintroduction of the College Transparency Act,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “The legislation would empower students as consumers through better data on how well students at colleges and universities fare.  It would also provide schools with the information they need to better assess their programs and take steps to further improve the success of their students.  The reauthorization of Higher Education Act presents the perfect opportunity to incorporate the CTA to fill the major holes in higher education data that have been allowed to exist for far too long.”

“The College Transparency Act will give students and families the information they need to choose the college and program that offer them the best chance of success, and it will spur equity-driven, evidence-based action among policymakers, institutions, and employers to enhance opportunities, especially for low-income students and students of color. The bill is a major step forward in using existing data to create the postsecondary data system that our students deserve – one that is transparent and provides the information needed to advance more equitable education outcomes for today’s students, while taking seriously the need to protect student privacy,” said Mamie Voight, Vice President of Policy Research, Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP).

“Students have been making one of the most important and expensive decisions of their lives, largely in the dark. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will help give students the information they need and deserve as they make decisions about their future,” said Amy Laitinen, Director of Higher Education at New America.