Senate Bill, Hearing on College Data

by Rachel Zinn
May 6, 2015

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Mark Warner (D-VA) yesterday introduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, a bill that would create a federal student record system to report on postsecondary students' progress and outcomes, including post-completion earnings.

The legislation 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. Student data would be matched 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. Earnings and other metrics would be disaggregated for different types of students, including Pell grant recipients.

The bill aims for the federal government to publicize information that helps prospective students and families make smart choices about postsecondary education. It previously has been introduced, but not gained significant traction, in both the Senate and House.

Senators on the Help, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee also focused today on college choice during a hearing on HEA reauthorization. Witnesses from higher education organizations said the federal government should make better data available, such as information about the success of different student populations and outcomes for programs of study, not just institutions.

WDQC recently weighed in on HEA data policy by signing onto a Postsecondary Data Collaborative letter calling for a student unit record system and increased use of federal data to track employment outcomes.