U.S. students and their families are currently faced with ever-climbing college tuition costs and uncertainty about the labor market value of a postsecondary degree, which makes choosing the right school and major all the more important. But considering the lack of transparency in higher education, emphasized Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at an AEI event on Wednesday, this task becomes extremely difficult.
Sen. Wyden began by emphasizing that information about the return on investment in a particular major at a particular college is at best incomplete. In an effort to improve transparency, Senators Wyden and Rubio have introduced legislation that would unearth existing — but currently inaccessible — data to paint a more comprehensive picture of the higher education landscape.
Higher education experts agreed with Sen. Rubio's opinion that higher education transparency is significant to building a capable workforce, but they disagreed with each other about the ways in which a standard data collection system for higher education could be implemented.
Amy Jones of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce asked whether it is the responsibility of the states or the federal government to collect this data. Pauline Abernathy of the Institute for College Access & Success concluded that going forward, it is crucial to establish what defines meaningful disclosure of information in order to improve the system for students, taxpayers and higher education institutions themselves.
--Lauren Blair Aronson
What’s the return on an investment in U.S. higher education? With rising college costs, an aggregate student loan debt reaching $1 trillion and dim job forecasts for recent graduates, prospective students and their families are seeking more information about the value of college degrees. And answers are not easy to come by, given that the higher education market lacks transparency regarding college costs, student learning and post-college success.
In response, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., with the co-sponsorship of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has drafted the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, a proposal that aims to dramatically increase higher education transparency. At this AEI and New America Foundation event, Sens. Wyden and Rubio will discuss the federal role in promoting higher education transparency and accountability. A panel of higher education experts will respond.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.