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Higher Education Data Reform

There are many factors to consider when picking where to go to college and how to pay for it, but it’s hard to escape the most central: how is it going to impact my financial future? While students value harder to quantify aspects of the college experience, such as broadening horizons or building networks, the vast majority of students are looking for a college education that will lead to a good job. In fact, at least 90 percent of students cite better employment or pay as their primary motivators for going to college.

But obtaining a degree today is expensive. Since the the Recession, tuition and fees at both 4-year and 2-year institutions rose 28 percent, and now students typically graduate with nearly $30,000 in debt. The stakes are high, especially for students from low income or first-generation students, who often face the greatest barriers in accessing higher education.

But while we know how important getting a degree is (on average), the system isn’t transparent and doesn’t make it easy to know what the return on your investment will be. Right now, we can’t answer basic questions about colleges and their outcomes, like which schools or programs lead to different types of jobs for different types of students. 


A commonly proposed solution is a Student-Level Data Network (SLDN). We have documents that define what a SLDN is as well as the privacy/security concerns to an SLDN.

In 2016, we talked to students across the country about what information they want to know and how they want that information presented. We’ve compiled their perspectives in the Student Agenda for Postsecondary Data Reform. Already, groups representing over one million students signed on. 

[READ]: Young Invincibles’ Official Comments on Proposed College Ratings Framework

[INFOGRAPHIC]: The Broken Link Between College and Jobs

Student stories:

Here are student-authored stories showcasing the different perspectives on the need for more information when deciding where to go to school and what to study.

Briana Stanley: “The College Transparency Act Would Help Students Make Informed Decisions

Blake Humphrey: “Transparency will benefit students, schools”

Ellen Griffin: “Empower Students to Better Assess School Quality”

Bridget Little: “What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You: A Lack of College Program Data Can Land Students in Deep Debt”

Thien Chau: “Why First Generation Students Need Data”

Beatrice Ohene-Okae: “The College Scorecard: Making an Informed Decision”

Daniel Niersbach writes a letter to the Indiana Senators about the College Transparency Act

Watch several students speak out on the College Transparency Act