April 23, 2018

Kaine Co-Sponsors Bipartisan Legislation To Ensure Students Have Adequate Data When Selecting Postsecondary Education

UVA President Teresa Sullivan and workforce groups praise bill; say improving data is critical to student success

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tim Kaine has co-sponsored legislation to modernize the data colleges provide students and families to ensure they have clear information about student outcomes before deciding on a college or other higher education institution. The College Transparency Act will increase reporting on student outcomes including enrollment, completion, and post-college success across colleges and majors, while ensuring the privacy of individual students is securely protected. Collecting and streamlining better data will also help institutions and policymakers deliver better outcomes. This information will tell students and their families how others with their backgrounds have succeeded at an institution and help point them towards schools best suited to their unique needs and desired outcomes.

“Deciding on the right pathway after high school is a pivotal moment that can open up doors for years to come,” said Kaine. “We need to do all that we can to empower students and families with more complete information to support making that important decision. The College Transparency Act is needed by schools and students alike, and fixes a major reporting gap in higher education data.”  

“The College Transparency Act is a step in the right direction for improving federal data, which is currently limited, and at times, inaccurate,” said UVA President Teresa Sullivan. “Improving data not only helps students and families with the important decisions associated with choosing a college, but also helps institutions of higher education make strides on campus with regard to student success.  I appreciate Senator Kaine’s support of transparency, good data, and enhanced consumer information in higher education and the bipartisan efforts behind this bill.” 

“The College Transparency Act would provide the information that students, institutions, and policymakers need to make more informed decisions about postsecondary education and training, including how many graduates find good paying jobs,” said Bryan Wilson, Director of the Workforce Data Quality Campaign. “They deserve better information to decide what program to enroll in, including the likely return on their investment.”

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.

The bill was introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and is cosponsored by Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

This legislation is supported by over 130 organizations including the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), the Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the United States Chamber of Commerce, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Jobs for the Future, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), Student Veterans of America, Third Way, Veterans Education Success (VES), Workforce Data Quality Campaign, Young Invincibles, and Business Roundtable.