Helping students make informed decisions on college
You don’t buy a car without the ability to compare prices, quality, and financing options. The same goes for buying a house. Why can’t we do this for higher education? It’s one of the largest financial decisions an individual will make in their life. They should have access to the same tools to make sure they’re getting the best value for their investment.
That’s why I’ve re-introduced the College Transparency Act (CTA) with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to ensure truth in advertising so prospective students can make the best decision for their future.
CTA makes navigating the college decision process easier by providing prospective students and their families the information necessary to make a well-informed decision.
This information includes the cost, enrollment, retention, completion, and post-college earnings. This makes comparing colleges and majors easier. In effect, you will know if the value of your college degree is worth the price of admission.
Applying to college is a daunting process to begin with, but having this information in a transparent, user-friendly way lifts some of the burden surrounding this decision-making process.
Furthermore, the bill ensures that the data being reported protects student privacy at all levels — from specifying what it could be used for, how it can be used, and how the data must be secured. In doing so, the U.S. Department of Education is required to ensure all applicable federal privacy laws are followed, and ensure strict data security standards are in place. While the Department of Education will only get access to aggregate — not individual — information from other agencies, the legislation takes the extra step of prohibiting the creation of a single standing, linked federal database containing personally identifiable information reported across agencies. Additionally, in order to reduce any burdens, it also uses data that is already available — either at the institutions or the federal government.
While the goal of CTA is to help students and families, it is valuable for employers, institutions, and policymakers as well. That is why more than 150 organizations — from postsecondary institutions to business groups to veterans’ groups and student organizations — support the bill such as the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and American Association of Community Colleges. In my home state of Louisiana, supporters include the University of Louisiana System, LSU, Louisiana Community and Technical College System, and New Orleans Youth Alliance.
With the cost of college continuing to rise and climbing student debt, we owe it to our nation’s students and their families to provide this increased transparency. Understanding student outcomes empowers individuals to make educated choices about their future.
Just a few weeks ago, millions of students committed to college. Come next College Signing Day, CTA can give students and families confidence that they’re making the best decision.
More than a quarter of my Senate colleagues co-sponsor this legislation. It is bipartisan and bicameral. Now it is time to get CTA across the finish line.
Bill Cassidy is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
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