Today, the House unanimously passed the Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act (H.R. 1949), a bill to explore ways to enhance higher education transparency and help make life work for students and their parents.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor made the following remarks on the Floor of the House in support of H.R. 1549:
“American moms and dads are working tirelessly to help their children achieve their dreams. For many, that dream includes college. However, the cost of postsecondary education has become increasingly difficult for American families to bear. Young graduates today are not only confronting a tough job market when they leave school, they are continually facing a growing mountain of debt that is financially burdensome and extremely difficult to pay back.
“Many students choose a school and their major without ever knowing the earning potential of their fields of study. This leaves many young Americans with a lower than expected income and struggling to pay down their loans once they graduate. For some it could take decades. This has got to change.
“My home state of Virginia has become a leader in attempting to address this problem. In 2012, Virginia enacted a requirement that schools in our state publish information regarding the proportion of graduates with employment, their average salary and higher education debt at 18 months and five years after graduation.
“I expect that this data will be extremely useful to parents and student alike. Unfortunately, the data available to Virginia is limited to graduates who remain in the Commonwealth. This means that the information available in the state database fails to fully capture students that graduate from a school like the University of Richmond – which attracts students from 46 different states – very often that go on to take jobs throughout the country where they become leaders in their field.
“We can help resolve this situation. The federal government currently has a significant amount of data that could help parents and students make better decisions regarding the financial benefits of prospective schools and majors. But, this information is often hard to understand or difficult to access.
“This bill requires the Secretary of Education to convene a 15 member advisory panel to provide recommendations on how to improve the information available to parents and students when deciding on their schools and majors.
“The advisory panel will provide an interim report within six months and a final report within 1 year for Congress’s consideration during the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.”
“This legislation will serve to kick start the process of improving transparency in higher education and provide students and parents with information they need to make informed decisions so that a college education can continue be a source of empowerment for millions of Americans. This bill is a great step in the right direction.
“I would like to thank Congressman Luke Messer, Chairman John Kline, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx and the rest of the Education and the Workforce Committee for their hard work on this issue and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”