Mitchell and Polis introduce the College Transparency Act of 2017

May 17, 2017
Press Release


Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Reps. Mitchell, R-Mich., and Jared Polis, D-Colo., introduced the College Transparency Act of 2017 (H.R. 2434) to enable students and families to make more informed choices about education after high school.

The College Transparency Act of 2017 will provide actionable and customizable information for students and families as they consider higher education opportunities by accurately reporting on student outcomes such as enrollment, completion, and post-college success across colleges and majors, while ensuring the privacy of individual students is securely protected. Most importantly, this information will tell students how other prospective students have succeeded at an institution, and help point them towards schools best suited to their unique needs and desired outcomes.

The current college reporting system is overly burdensome on institutions, yet provides little practical information for students and families due to significant gaps in college data reporting. Under the updated system, institutions would securely report privacy-protected, student-level data to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). NCES would be responsible for securely storing student information, working with relevant federal agencies to generate post-college outcomes reports, and presenting the summary information on a user-friendly website for students and families.  Furthermore, NCES is prohibited from sharing personally identifiable student information.

“I spent my career in higher education, so I understand many of the challenges facing institutions, students, and parents,” said Rep. Mitchell, R-Mich.  “It has long been a priority of mine to ensure students and families have the necessary tools to make informed decisions about their future.  As soon as I assumed office, I began working on legislation to increase transparency to enable students to make decisions that will put them on the path to success.  This bill will streamline and update current data practices to arm students with information to make the best choices, while reducing bureaucratic burdens on universities.”

"Education is the single best investment a person can make in today's economy. Students should be empowered to make the decision that’s best for them, and that starts with having accurate, credible, and accessible information at hand,” Rep. Polis, D-Colo., said. “We wouldn’t expect someone to buy a home without researching their investment first, and higher education should be no different. Students should be able to know which institution will serve them best. Likewise, colleges and universities deserve better data so they know where they’re performing well, and where they can make improvements. The College Transparency Act is an important step in that direction.”

“Public universities commend Representatives Paul Mitchell and Jared Polis for championing students and families’ need for better information on higher education,” said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, which has long been focused on improving higher education data. “As a result of a ban on student-level data in the Higher Education Act, the federal government has presented students and their families with grossly incomplete information about graduation rates, employment outcomes, and other key information on how students fare at individual institutions.  This legislation would finally lift the federally-imposed curtain on comprehensive higher education outcomes data and enable students to make better informed decisions.” 


Currently, students are unable to access accurate information about graduate rates and employment possibilities by major or credential level, inhibiting them from making informed decisions about their post-secondary education path. 

The College Transparency Act of 2017 would address the current shortcomings of higher education information by:

  • Ensuring students and families have access to accurate and complete information on student outcomes, such as completion and employment outcomes across colleges and majors;
  • Providing actionable and customizable information to students and families so they, rather than government agencies, can make responsible choices about higher education; and
  • Streamlining reporting burdens on institutes of higher education by prioritizing information most helpful to students and families as well as institutional improvement.

Sens. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., introduced companion legislation in the US senate.   

To read the College Transparency Act of 2017 click here.