News: Quick Takes

Foxx-sponsored higher-ed transparency bill moves forward

Measure in U.S. House shares features with state legislation now awaiting governor's signature

While North Carolina’s recently passed college transparency bill awaits the signature of Gov. Pat McCrory, similar federal legislation was approved on Wednesday by the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th District

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th District

House Resolution 3178, the “Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act,” would increase access to information for all college applicants in the United States and streamline existing transparency efforts to ease confusion and boost efficiency when students apply for college.

“Students must wade through massive and often conflicting amounts of information in order to make an informed choice,” said bill sponsor Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th District, when the committee discussed the legislation. “Taking time to fully understand the available data can be an aggravating task that may get put off and ultimately ignored, often with disastrous consequences.”

Foxx, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, also stated that the bill is designed to help students and their families make smarter decisions by providing a more-comprehensive picture of college campuses across the nation.

The legislation includes the following provisions:

  • The U.S. secretary of education must create a College Dashboard to display information about completion rates of all students, including current students and Pell grant recipients.
  • The secretary must provide a link to the College Dashboard page of each institution listed on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid to ensure that each student knows this information is available.
  • The secretary must coordinate with other federal agencies to ensure all published higher education data are consistent with the information available on the College Dashboard.

Additionally, the legislation would alter current policies governing institutional price calculators to give college applicants a more accurate picture of tuition costs.

H.R. 3178 shares several similarities with North Carolina’s Senate Bill 536, “Students Know Before You Go,” which was introduced in 2015 by Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake. It directs the State Education Assistance Authority to create a website that would present information on college costs, completion rates, and likelihood of employment to students and parents who are considering a degree at any public, private, or community college in the state.

The most recently revised version of S.B. 536, which passed the House last week and was approved Tuesday by the Senate, also requires the SEAA to provide prospective undergraduates with data about the state’s employment needs and salary ranges.

The bill’s transparency measure would take effect in April 2017.

Click here to read more about S.B. 536.