March 22, 2021
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the College Transparency Act (CTA), and commends the leadership of the bipartisan group of Representatives and Senators in introducing this important legislation. The CTA would create greater transparency of student outcomes within our postsecondary education system and allow students to make decisions about higher education with knowledge of the return on their investment of time and resources. Members who cosponsor this legislation will receive credit for the Leadership component of the Chamber’s “How They Voted” scorecard.
Most students enter postsecondary education because they want a better job or more career opportunities, which means they are trying to meet employer needs. This is particularly true during periods of economic recovery. Yet, a skills gap persists because there is a mismatch between the programs students enroll in and the skills employers hire for, and it is difficult for students to discover this mismatch because there is no accurate way to compare institutional outcomes. Current law prevents federal agencies from safely and securely linking data the government already collects. This bill would change that. By making earnings and employment information (along with other data) available by major, it would allow students to find areas of interest that also meet employer needs. This is a win-win situation, as it would help lead to post-graduation employment.
Access to accurate data when making decisions about postsecondary education is particularly important to communities of color. Better data are necessary to uncover and remove racial and socioeconomic inequities. Last summer, the Chamber launched its Equality of Opportunity Agenda to address these opportunity gaps, and the CTA would help identify and highlight disparities in the higher education system. The CTA would require disaggregation of student outcomes by race/ethnicity, gender, Pell Grant-recipient status, military status, and other key characteristics while protecting student privacy.
By giving America’s students accurate information on college access, affordability, completion, and income, this bill would enable students to make more informed choices about their education. This legislation would strike an important balance by arming students with essential information to shape their future, while also setting firm guardrails to protect their personal information.
Neil L. Bradley