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Statement of Support: College Transparency Act of 2017
Please consider signing on to the following statement in support of the recent higher education transparency legislation, the College Transparency Act, championed by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA), and Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representatives Mitchell (R-MI), Polis (D-CO), Adams (D-NC), Bacon (R-NE), Bergman (R-MI), Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Bonamici (D-OR), Carson (D-IN), Cleaver (D-MO), Davis (D-CA), DeSaulnier (D-CA), Dunn (R-FL), Espaillat (D-NY), Ferguson (R-GA), Garrett (R-VA), Hice (R-GA), Jenkins (R-KS), Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Lawrence (D-MI), Lewis (R-MN), Marshall (R-KS), Panetta (D-CA), Pearce (R-NM), Peters (D-CA), Smucker (R-PA), Stefanik (R-NY), Stivers (R-OH), Takano (D-CA), and Upton (R-MI). To sign-on, complete the form following the statement.

Contact Alain Poutré (apoutre@ihep.org) or Christina Pena (ChristinaP@workforcedqc.org) with questions.
Postsecondary Data Collaborative and Workforce Data Quality Campaign Applaud Bipartisan, Bicameral College Transparency Act
The Postsecondary Data Collaborative (PostsecData) and the Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC), in cooperation with the undersigned organizations and individuals, applaud Senators Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA), and Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representatives Mitchell (R-MI), Polis (D-CO), Garrett (R-VA), Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Stivers (R-OH), Panetta (D-CA), Dunn (R-FL), and Upton (R-MI) for championing transparency through their introduction of the College Transparency Act, which would create a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary data system. Supported by four members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and two members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, this bipartisan bill would help students, policymakers, and institutions to make informed choices by providing better information about college access, success, costs, and outcomes.

The research is abundantly clear: Investing in a college education pays off. [1] But while college is worth it on average, students, policymakers, and institutions cannot answer crucial questions about which postsecondary programs provide an adequate return on investment for which students. Students and taxpayers have a right to know what they can expect in return for their college investment. Yet, existing policies prevent us from answering basic questions, such as:

● How many low-income, adult, transfer, and part-time students earn a postsecondary certificate or degree from a particular institution?
● How much do students borrow, and can they repay their loans?
● How long does it take students to complete college, on average?
● How many non-completers from a particular college never reenroll, and how many transfer to finish their degree at another institution?
● Do students go on to succeed in the workforce?

Answers to these questions would help students and families choose programs that demonstrate strong outcomes, while helping policymakers and educators to implement policies and practices that help more students succeed. For the marketplace to function effectively, all these stakeholders need access to high-quality information that reflects all types of students and can look at outcomes across state lines. The federal government—with its access to existing data, including on employment and earnings—is uniquely positioned to compile that information, while reducing institutional reporting burden.

The College Transparency Act would reform federal policy to create a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary data system that would:
● Empower all students to make more informed choices about where to spend their precious time and money,
● Only be used to help students,
● Protect student privacy and adhere to best practices in data security,
● Reduce reporting burden for colleges and universities by replacing the student components of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS),
● Better steward taxpayer dollars,
● Uncover equity gaps so colleges and universities can change policies and practices to better serve underrepresented students, and
● Align education with labor market demand and help employers identify programs that are effectively preparing students for the workforce.

The bill is laser-focused on protecting students’ privacy. It includes protections that limit data disclosures, prohibit the sale of data, penalize illegal data use, protect vulnerable students, prohibit use of the data for law enforcement, and safeguard personally identifiable information.

The College Transparency Act represents broad consensus among students, colleges and universities, employers, and policymakers that a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student data system is the only way to give students the information they need to make informed college choices. It builds upon previous bipartisan, bicameral efforts to strengthen national data systems through the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act. We urge policymakers to pass legislation to create a postsecondary data system that gives the right people the right information to make the best possible decisions about higher education.

[1] College Board, Education Pays 2016, https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/education-pays-2016-full-report.pdf
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