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Bonamici, Krishnamoorthi, Stivers, Sherrill, Wilson, Steil Reintroduce Bipartisan and Bicameral College Transparency Act

March 18, 2021
Press Release
The landmark education transparency legislation was endorsed by nearly 200 organizations last Congress


WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Mikie Sherill (D-NJ), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Bryan Steil (R-WI) reintroduced the bipartisan College Transparency Act to enable students and families to make more informed choices about education after high school. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced identical companion legislation in the US Senate earlier today.


“We need quality information to make good decisions,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01). “The current ban on collecting and reporting student-level data at our institutions of higher education hinders the ability of students and families to make fully informed choices about college and impedes the ability of lawmakers to craft policies that will improve our education system. I’m pleased to join Rep. Krishnamoorthi in introducing the College Transparency Act to repeal the ban and unleash the data, while also making sure the data is secure and student privacy is protected.”


“The College Transparency Act shines much-needed light on college outcomes and affordability,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08). “Higher education is one of the biggest investments that families make, and they need the best available information to make informed decisions. Our legislation will ensure they have an operational student-level data system to provide them with more complete information about college access, success, costs, and outcomes. We want students to be able to make the right choices for their futures.”


“Education is one of the most expensive investments a person makes, but just as you would not purchase a home without an inspection or buy a car without comparing different models, students should be empowered with all of the information possible when making a decision about their lives beyond high school,” Congressman Steve Stivers said (OH-15).  “I’m proud to reintroduce the College Transparency Act so that students can make sound financial decisions as they consider post-secondary education.”


“This bill ensures that students and their families can make informed decisions about their future when considering college,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11). “It fundamentally improves the information space surrounding our higher education institutions -- from better protecting student privacy to increasing transparency on student outcomes. Too often, students -- particularly veterans -- can’t get the information they need, are ultimately taken advantage of, and then left with massive student debt and a less valuable degree. I’m proud to co-lead this bill, which will make a real difference in the lives of students and their families.”


“Students and parents should have every tool when making the decision on a college or university,” Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) said. “I am grateful to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan bill that provides important data to assist with this life-changing decision.”


“From a university’s location and size to its tuition costs and fees, students and parents use many factors when deciding what college is right for them. As student loan debt and college costs skyrocket, we must ensure students and families have access to accurate, factual information when making life-changing decisions for their future. Our bill provides needed transparency to help students with this important decision. We want every student to be set up for a lifetime of academic and financial success. I am glad to join Reps. Krishnamoorthi and Stivers in this effort to support our nation’s students,” said Rep. Bryan Steil (WI-01).  


The College Transparency Act will provide actionable and customizable information for students and families as they consider higher education opportunities by enabling privacy-protected access to student outcomes such as enrollment, completion, and post-college success across colleges and majors. Most importantly, this information will inform prospective students about how others have succeeded at a particular institution and help point them towards schools and majors best suited to their unique needs and desired outcomes.


The bipartisan legislation amends the existing college reporting system, which is currently incomplete and inefficient since current law prohibits the federal government from collecting and reporting accurate data on student outcomes. The current system leaves millions of American families in the dark without fully understanding the return on investment as they make their decisions concerning this enormous investment in their children’s future. Further, when students make misinformed decisions about where to pursue an education, the student loan crisis is exacerbated, and the strength of the American workforce suffers.


Specifically, the College Transparency Act would:

  • Establish a privacy-protected postsecondary data system at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which would collect and report on student outcomes such as enrollment, completion, and post-college success to help prospective students determine which programs of study efficiently support their career aspirations. 
  • This new data reporting system would be organized by factors such as race, ethnicity, veteran’s status, and more. 
  • NCES would securely store student information within this data system and work with relevant federal agencies to generate post-college outcomes reports and would provide a summary of the information in a user-friendly website for students and families.


Importantly, this new system would aid institutions of learning and policymakers in their work to improve our country’s postsecondary education system, ensure employers have the talent pipeline they need to grow the economy, strengthen equity and access for all Americans to achieve a high-quality education, and allow students and families to make well-informed decisions that yield a return on their investment.


Amy Laitinen, Director of Higher Education, New America said, “When students enroll in postsecondary education, they are making one of the most important--and expensive--decisions of their lives, without the benefit of good information on their likelihood of graduating and finding a good job after they leave school. The College Transparency Act, with tremendous bipartisan support, would help to level the playing field, giving students and their families access to the data they need to make smart, informed decisions about their lives and financial futures.”


Mamie Voight, Interim President, Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) said,“As our country works to recover from the current health and economic crises, the need for the College Transparency Act has never been more urgent. The bill is critical so that students can know which institutions will provide them with the best return on investment, policymakers can access quality data to target interventions and distribute funds to students and institutions in need, and institutions and employers can enhance opportunities to drive an equitable economic recovery.  It will allow existing data to be used to create the postsecondary data system that our students, especially those from low-income backgrounds and students of color, need and deserve – one that is transparent and provides the information required to advance more equitable outcomes for today’s students, while taking seriously the need to protect student privacy.”


Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities said, “We congratulate and thank the sponsors on the reintroduction of the bipartisan, bicameral College Transparency Act. It is long past time for Congress to pass legislation that provides a much clearer and complete understanding of higher education outcomes.  This information will empower students and families as informed consumers, allow policymakers to make evidence-based decisions, and boost colleges and universities’ student success efforts. Public universities’ commitment to students and communities requires they constantly assess their programs and adopt strategies to enhance their impact. CTA will provide critical tools to fuel these efforts.”


“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds the introduction of the College Transparency Act, as a way to ensure American students have access to accurate information on college affordability, employment and income data by major. This sets our students up for future success and enables them to make decisions about higher education by having knowledge on the return on investment of their time and resources. Providing this transparency to students will help better match students with careers, narrow the skills gap, and therefore make our economy stronger,” said Allison L. Dembeck, Vice President of Education and Labor Advocacy at the U.S Chamber of Commerce


Last Congress, the College Transparency Act earned the support of 235 bipartisan Members of the U.S. House, and was endorsed by nearly 200 education, workforce, veterans, youth, and business organizations. The Members hope to earn even more support for the common-sense legislation as they advocate for its passage in the new Congress.