While the Higher Education Act (HEA) has many components, the aspect that concerns NACE the most would be any changes to the reporting of graduate outcomes. The tracking and reporting of graduate outcomes has been a core issue with NACE for a number of years. In 2012, NACE issued a position paper that emphasized the importance of tracking outcomes and placed the primary responsibility for doing so on the individual higher education institution. However, these institutions face considerable difficulty in obtaining comprehensive information about the status of their graduates once they leave the institution, and there is considerable interest among government officials, parents, students, and the general public for knowing how well students fare once they graduate with a college degree.
Recently, legislation has been introduced to amend the HEA to allow for more effective tracking of graduate outcomes. The College Transparency Act of 2017 (S. 1121), sponsored by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA), and Whitehouse (D-RI), would lift the current ban on the establishment of a federal data system that would track employment and graduation outcomes of college students. Popularly known as a “student unit card” system, outcomes would be tracked by melding data from a number of federal databases. Individual student data would be reported to the U.S. Department of Education and then combined with individual-level data from another federal database such as the one held by the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration.
A federal student unit card system could provide advantages, including:
Traditionally, NACE has expressed two major concerns related to the establishment of a federal student unit card system. In addition, the stated output in S. 1121 raises a third concern about the legislation.
NACE has not taken a position on the College Transparency Act of 2017. It is possible that as the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act proceeds, the College Transparency Act will receive significant attention and possible inclusion within the reauthorization. NACE would like your comments on the intent of the bill and its components so that the association can better represent the sentiments of the NACE membership in terms of commenting on the bill. Please provide your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted November 2, 2017