Know Before You Go

A new bipartisan bill introduced on May 9 could provide students with more helpful information — financial and otherwise — on colleges they wish to attend. The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2013, sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, would provide more accurate and informative answers to students’ questions about various institutions. Let’s look at some of the key proposed changes:

1.  Post-graduation earnings

  • Currently, no information is provided on average post-graduation earnings.
  • Under this new law, colleges would provide average earnings based on program of study, credential received, educational institution, and state of employment.

2.  Financial Aid

  • Currently, institutions report only the percentage of students who receive financial aid (Pell grants, state and local grants, scholarships, federal and private student loans).
  • Under the new act, financial aid information would be broken down by student type (first-time, full-time/part-time, transfer), as well as program of study.

3.  Federal loan debt

  • Currently, no information is calculated as to a student’s average federal loan debt.
  • The new act would make available the average federal loan debt for students who graduate, and the information would be broken down by the institution’s degrees and programs

4.  Student transfer rates

  • Currently, no information is collected as to students’ transfer rates.
  • Under this new act, transfer rates for students would be made available and would be broken down by transfer type.

This information, if made available to the public in an easily-accessible format, would be immensely helpful for prospective students as they begin their college searches. How much an average student can expect to earn upon graduation, what specific financial aid options exist at a certain school, how much debt the average student takes on, and how many students stick it out and finish their programs is information that can help students make better, more informed decisions about which schools to attend.

You can follow the bill at GovTrack.us (full link below). It has been referred to a committee and, pending the committee’s report, it must pass the House and Senate before the President can enact it into law. GovTrack gives this bill a 5% chance of getting past the committee and a 1% chance of being enacted. That isn’t much to hang a hat on, but hopefully it’s a start in the right direction. In the 2012-2013 year, students paid, on average, $29,056 for private colleges and $8,655 for public colleges. Two-thirds of students graduated in 2011 with student loan debt, about $26,600 per borrower. In this day and age, especially, knowing the financial specifics of your college is essential before you commit to a school. I’m glad to see that representatives like Wyden are trying to get more helpful information into students’ hands.

 

GovTrack site: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1937

More info at: http://www.wyden.senate.gov/download/the-student-right-to-know-before-you-go_-one-page-description

 


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