NC Enacts Student Right to Know Before You Go Legislation

Jenna Leventoff
July 11, 2016

Last month, North Carolina enacted Senate Bill 536, which will provide information to parents and students that can help them select career paths, majors, and postsecondary institutions.

The bill requires the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) to build a “Know Before You Go” webpage providing both information on the state’s projected employment needs, and outcomes data for graduates of the state’s public and private postsecondary institutions. Specifically, the website will help students make informed decisions about potential career paths by detailing the state’s projected employment needs, the salary ranges of needed employment areas, the associated college majors, and the institutions offering those majors. NCSEAA’s website will also contain outcomes information for graduates of public and private postsecondary intuitions, to help students pick the best postsecondary institution for them. Outcomes data on the website will include average and median loan debt, average and median salary, and the percentage of graduates employed within six months of graduation, all broken down by major.

This bill follows a slew of recent state efforts to promote postsecondary accountability and increase consumer information. States such as Maine, Minnesota, and Kentucky have all enacted legislation requiring colleges and universities to report on the employment and earnings of program graduates. These bills, as well as other similar state bills, are profiled in our Student Right to Know State Legislative Models infographic.

The bill is also similar to the federal “Student Right to Know Before You Go” bill, which would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) to require postsecondary institutions eligible for federal financial aid to submit student-level data to the U.S. Department of Education. ED would match student data with tax data housed at the Social Security Administration to calculate median earnings for postsecondary programs at two years, six years, and 15 years after completion.

NCSEAA’s website will be provided in addition to the North Carolina’s existing Common Follow-Up System, which provides employment and earnings outcomes for the state’s public two and four year colleges. The measure is set to take effect April 1, 2017.