Statement of Support: College Transparency Act of 2023
We invite your organization to sign on to this College Transparency Act (CTA) support letter (attached below), which thanks Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Nancy Mace (R-SC), and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), for their bipartisan, bicameral reintroduction of CTA.
 
To sign-on, complete the form following the statement.

If you have any questions contact Jessica Vivar (jvivar@ihep.org) or Kelly Leon (kleon@ihep.org).
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Postsecondary Data Collaborative and National Skills Coalition Applaud the Bipartisan, Bicameral College Transparency Act

The Postsecondary Data Collaborative (PostsecData) and the National Skills Coalition, in cooperation with the undersigned organizations and individuals, applaud  Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Nancy Mace (R-SC), and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) for championing transparency through their introduction of the College Transparency Act, which would create a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary data network. During the 117th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the College Transparency Act (H.R. 2030) as an amendment to the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521). 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. This information empowers students and families to make well-informed choices about their education, policymakers and institutions to craft evidence-based policies to help students succeed, and employers to navigate the talent pipeline they need to grow the economy. Without complete, representative data that counts all students, equity will be out of reach.

The research is abundantly clear: Investing in a college education pays off.[1]  But while college is “worth it” on average, students, policymakers, institutions, and employers 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:

What are national completion rates for part-time and transfer students of color?
How do college access, affordability, and completion vary by race, ethnicity, and income?
How much do students borrow, and can they repay their loans?
How many non-completers from a particular college never reenroll, and how many transfer to finish their degree at another institution?
Which 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 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 burdens.

The College Transparency Act:

Overturns the ban on student-level data collection in the Higher Education Act;
Creates a secure, privacy protected student-level data network within the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) using strong security standards and data governance protocols;
Accurately reports on student outcomes including enrollment, completion and post-college success across colleges and programs;
Leverages existing data at federal agencies and institutional data by matching a limited set of data to calculate aggregate information to answer questions critical to understanding and improving student success;
Protects all students by limiting data disclosures, prohibiting the sale of data, penalizing illegal data use, protecting vulnerable students, prohibiting the use of the data for law enforcement, safeguarding personally identifiable information, and requiring notice to students and regular audits of the system;
Streamlines burdensome federal reporting requirements for postsecondary institutions;
Provides information disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and Pell Grant receipt status to identify inequities in students’ success;
Requires a user-friendly website to ensure the data are transparent, informative, and accessible for students, families, policymakers, and employers; and
Feeds aggregate information back to states and institutions so they can develop and implement targeted, data-informed strategies aimed at supporting student success.

The College Transparency Act passed the House in the last Congress and represents broad consensus among students, colleges and universities, employers, and policymakers that a secure, privacy-protected postsecondary student data network is the only way to give students the information they need to make informed college choices. That is why we are coming together to urge Congress to pass this bill to provide accurate, timely, and high-quality aggregate data in a user-friendly, transparent way for students and families, policymakers, institutions and employers who have a right to know answers to key questions about student access and success.
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