Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is capturing national headlines for his push for more sunshine on government snooping. But he also wants more sunshine to help students assess college programs for graduation rates, projected earnings and debt loads before they enroll.
The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act has been introduced with bipartisan sponsors in the U.S. House and Senate. Democrat Wyden is teamed up in the Senate with Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio.
Much as he has on the issue of personal privacy in the face of massive government surveillance, Wyden is pressing for more transparency. "There's no question everyone needs access to higher education," Wyden says, "but it's time to bring value into the equation. This bipartisan legislation would allow people to understand where they can expect their educational choices to take them in the real world."
The idea behind the legislation is to make data available online in an easily accessible format. According to a statement by Wyden and the bill's cosponsors, "Using information already gathered, the bill would allow student records to be matched with employment and earnings data.
The result would be highly accurate and informative and finally provide students and their families the opportunity and tools needed for a more complete picture of the value of their education.
The U.S. Department of Education currently makes available some institutional data through its College Scorecard, but Wyden and his colleagues call the information "extremely limited." Under their legislation, much more information would be compiled:
• Average post-graduate earnings would be broken down by program of study, credential received, educational institution and state of employment.
• Graduation rates would be made available for first-time, full-time, part-time and transfer students.