Dear Senators Cassidy, Warren, Scott and Whitehouse:
On behalf of the CEO members of Business Roundtable, whose companies employ nearly 15 million Americans, I am writing to express our strong support for the College Transparency Act, S. 800. This legislation is entirely consistent with one of the long-standing Business Roundtable principles for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which is to drive quality and decision-making through better data.
While the federal government spends nearly $150 billion annually to support students pursuing a postsecondary education, very little is known about the actual educational outcomes for far too many of these students. While a massive amount of data is collected from institutions, current data collection efforts fail to capture a large percentage of the student population and do not reflect the usable information students and others invested in the higher education system need in order to make informed decisions.
Your legislation would take critical steps toward ensuring that the data collected better reflect the outcomes of all students in institutions participating in federal student financial aid assistance programs. In addition, the bill would enable a comprehensive understanding of the extent to which institutions are successfully serving all students –particularly those in targeted populations and those receiving Pell Grants. The bill would also provide students and prospective students post-collegiate outcomes of former students to aid their decision making, including data such as earnings, employment status and further education, broken down by program and credential level.
The combined impact of these and other provisions in your legislation would greatly enhance the transparency and quality of our nation’s system of higher education. Not only would this bill help students, it would also help policymakers better direct limited federal resources and enable employers to make more informed decisions in areas such as recruitment activities.
We also support the bill’s provision to repeal the long-standing prohibition on creating a federal student data system under the Higher Education Act. While we understand and appreciate the concerns that have been raised regarding the establishment of such a system, we believe that this legislation takes the necessary steps to ensure the privacy and security of any data collected and would also carefully limit the ways in which the data may be used.
Again, thank you for introducing this legislation. We look forward to working with you and other members of Congress to ensure this important bill becomes law.
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation
Chair, Education and Workforce Committee, Business Roundtable
Ranking Member Murray