A bipartisan group of influential U.S. senators released a bill Monday that would overturn the ban on a federal student-level data system that would allow for the tracking of employment and graduation rates. A bipartisan companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives followed Tuesday.
The House version, introduced by Representatives Paul Mitchell, a Michigan Republican, and Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, is dubbed the College Transparency Act of 2017. It closely mirrors the Senate version, with the bill's sponsors saying it would help students and families with "actionable and customizable" information on student outcomes, while also securely protecting students' privacy. Some of the opposition to dropping the 2008 ban, from both sides of the aisle, is based on privacy concerns. The largest private college group is against this push for a federal data system, but public higher education groups back it.
“It has long been a priority of mine to ensure students and families have the necessary tools to make informed decisions about their future,” Mitchell said in a written statement. “As soon as I assumed office, I began working on legislation to increase transparency to enable students to make decisions that will put them on the path to success. This bill will streamline and update current data practices to arm students with information to make the best choices, while reducing bureaucratic burdens on universities.”