H.R. 4983, Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act

H.R. 4983

Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act

Date
July 23, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
David Smentek

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 4983, the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, as amended, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 4983 was introduced on June 26, 2014 by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luke Messer (R-IN) and referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote. 

Bill Summary

H.R. 4983 requires the Secretary of Education to create a consumer-tested College Dashboard website that displays simple, understandable, and unbiased information for the most recent academic year on each institution of higher education.  The website would require the following information on each institution: 1) a link to the website and an identification of the type of institution; 2) the number of students enrolled at the institution; 3) the student-faculty ratio; 4) the percentage of degree or certificate-seeking undergraduate students who received their degree or certificate within 100, 150, or 200 percent of the normal time of completion; 5) the average net price per year for undergraduate students receiving federal financial aid by income bracket; 6) a link to the net price calculator for the institution; 7) the percentage of students who borrowed federal loans and their average debt over the course of obtaining their certificate or degree; 8) a link to the national and regional data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding starting salaries in all major occupations; and 9) a link to the website of the institution containing campus safety data. The legislation also ensures the College Dashboard includes information on the completion rates of all students, including contemporary students and Pell Grant recipients. Moreover, this legislation requires the Secretary to provide a link to the webpage of the College Dashboard for each institution a student lists on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.  H.R. 4983 also improves current policies governing net price calculators required to be posted on the websites of institutions of higher education within one year of the bill’s enactment. This legislation does not authorize the use of additional funds.

Background

“Despite repeated attempts to enhance transparency in the higher education system, students and families still struggle to access important information that will assist in their search for the right college or university.”[1]  Under current law, the Secretary of Education is only required to publish information regarding first-time students who attend classes full-time, which ignores a majority of the current college population.[2]  H.R. 4983 attempts to address this problem by improving consumer information; streamlining existing transparency efforts at the federal level; and requiring better coordination by federal agencies.

________________
[1] Committee on Education and the Workforce, Fact Sheet: Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (Jun. 26, 2014).
[2] Committee Report 113-530, at 19.

Cost

CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4983 would cost $1 million over the 2015-2019 period, assuming availability of appropriated funds.[3]

________________
[3] http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/hr4983.pdf

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.