Congress Proposes Bills Publicizing Post-Graduate Wage Data

Posted By Eliana Osborn on June 4, 2015 at 2:10 pm
Congress Proposes Bills Publicizing Post-Graduate Wage Data

The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, a House bill that would publicize post-graduate wage data from colleges across the nation, was introduced recently by Utah Representative Mia Love (R) and California Representative Duncan Hunter (R). The bill would provide a way for students to get information about employment and pay statistics for graduates of specific institutions, helping them make smarter decisions about where to go to college.  The bill would not collect new data – only organize and make available existing data.

With U.S. student loan debt totaling more than $1 trillion, making informed decisions about college value is increasingly important.  The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act would enable colleges to share more data than previously allowed under federal law, including figures about debt and graduation rates in addition to jobs information.

Today, if a student wants to compare the success of graduates from multiple universities, collecting that information would be time consuming and difficult, if not impossible.  The Know Before You Go Act proposes to consolidate data from many sources into one easy to use, searchable database.  Policy makers would benefit as well, as population subsets will be searchable.

Transfer and part-time students are a growing segment of higher education. However, very little information is available about their unique successes and challenges.  Post-secondary institutions in America need to adapt to their needs, as well stay relevant (the rise in for-profit schools has been in large part because of their ability to the flexibility needs of an older, working student population). Traditional colleges and universities will better be able to serve their students once they have clearer information on them and their lives after graduation.

The Senate version, introduced in early May, has bipartisan support.  It was proposed by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) to “provide meaningful, easily accessible data to make higher education decisions easier and more cost-effective for students and their families in the 21st century,” according to a press release from Senator Rubio’s office.

Some critics of the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act worry about privacy concerns.  Others want to be sure new data collection requirements will not be asked of colleges and universities.  The bill has been introduced to Congress in the past without much support or action, so its fate this time around remains uncertain.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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