Better Higher Ed Data means Better Decisions

Investing in a college education pays off. Earning a bachelor’s, associate’s or postsecondary certificate increases job earnings and sets graduates on the path to lifelong economic security. But not all programs provide a meaningful return on investment for all students.Current federal law prohibits the collection and reporting of data on outcomes for all students at each college and university in the United States. This means students lack complete and useful information about outcomes at the colleges where they are considering investing their time and money.That needs to change.The College Transparency Act (CTA) is one solution with broad bipartisan support that will empower students and families to make better-informed choices about where to enroll. It will also give policymakers and institutions the data they need to make better-informed policy decisions that support student success.By creating a privacy-protected, student-level data network, CTA would give students and families the full picture on which institutions offer students the best return on their investment.

We’re celebrating the bipartisan reintroduction of the College Transparency Act. Check out the bill text here.

Learn About CTA

The College Transparency Act would create a complete, secure, privacy-protected federal student-level data network that counts all students, empower students to choose the college and program that fits their educational and career goals, spur continuous improvement for colleges and universities to promote strong outcomes for all students, inform evidence-based policymaking at the state and federal levels, and illuminate equity gaps in college access, success, and post-college outcomes.

What People Are Saying About CTA

Deciding to invest time and resources in a college education is one of the most important decisions a student will make. To empower that decision-making, students need and deserve complete and useful information about how other students fare at the colleges and programs they are considering. The College Transparency Act reforms our existing data systems so students and families can access timely, high-quality, and user-friendly information. CTA will also empower policymakers with answers to key questions so they can craft evidence-based solution that promote better outcomes for all students, particularly students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. And by illuminating inequities facing students, CTA can support equity-minded, data-driven action among higher education institutions. We look forward to working with Congressional leaders to pass this critically important legislation.

Mamie Voight
President & CEO
Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP)

Pursuing a college education can be a significant investment for students and their families and this legislation would empower them to make better-informed decisions on which institutions and programs to attend. APLU, the public university community, and many others have called on Congress to lift the ban on student-level data and count all students’ outcomes. The College Transparency Act would enable comprehensive reporting on graduation outcomes, enhance institutional efforts to increase student success, and provide policymakers with key data on student populations such as veterans. We urge Congress to take up this common-sense legislation and provide students and their families critical data for making informed higher education choices. Giving students and their families access to the information they need on higher education is a no-brainer.

Mark Becker
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)

CTA serves the entire higher education community: it will provide students with better tools to weigh their college options, colleges and universities with insights to improve their student outcomes, and employers with a well-prepared workforce. Importantly, it achieves these aims while ensuring that student data are secure and privacy-protected, with robust data governance protocols to safeguard student information. CTA is a standout piece of legislation not only for its broad benefits, but also for its broad support across constituencies. It was the single most bipartisan bill by co-sponsor count in a prior Congress, and passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis last year in an amendment to the America COMPETES Act of 2022. Beyond the Capitol, CTA has earned the public endorsement of over 160 diverse organizations, among them higher education institutions, civil rights groups, veterans’ organizations, student advocates, and the workforce and economic development community.

Lanae Erickson
Senior Vice President for Social Policy, Education & Politics
Third Way

States and the federal government spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year to help support students as they enroll in colleges and universities across the country. And yet, despite this investment, students and policymakers know shockingly little about how well particular schools serve students. The answer to the question, ‘Is college worth it?’ is an unequivocal yes—on average. But the real question is: ‘In which program, at which college, at which price, and for which students is it worth it?’ The College Transparency Act would give students and their families access to the data to answer these questions, enabling them to make informed decisions about which program or college to attend. And it will help policymakers better understand what works in higher education and where to focus resources to improve outcomes.

Rachel Fishman
Acting Director
New America’s Higher Education Program

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds the introduction of the bipartisan College Transparency Act. The legislation is as a way to ensure students have access to accurate information on college affordability, employment outcomes, and income data of postsecondary education programs. Providing this transparency will help better match students with careers by allowing them to find and attend programs that not only interest them, but also meet employer needs. Ultimately this will help narrow the skills gap, bolster our country’s competitiveness, and make our economy stronger.

Allison L. Dembeck
Vice President of Education and Labor Advocacy
U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Speak with experts working to make this happen:

Mamie Voight
Institute for Higher Education Policy
Allison Dembeck
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Craig Lindwarm
Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities
Rachel Fishman
New America
Emmi Navarro
Third Way