Why we need to know more, not less, about what students get from college

By Mark Schneider of Hechinger Report

The federal government, in concert with the states and institutions, could do more to increase transparency and enhance market accountability in higher education.

More effectively reporting data that it already collects and collecting better data on cost, quality and value would provide a number of benefits.

Students could use the information to avoid investing in schools or programs that do not provide a positive return on investment and to discover options that they may have eliminated on the basis of incomplete or faulty information.

Researchers and policymakers could more readily judge where investments in federal aid are paying off and where reforms could improve efficiency and reduce waste. Private firms could use data to come up with rankings and ratings to reflect the unique preferences of different students.

Private lenders and funders could use labor-market outcome data to improve underwriting and extend credit on the basis of a student’s potential rather than the student’s past experience with credit products. 

Perhaps the most visible attempt to rewrite the federal role was the Obama administration’s failed attempt to build a Postsecondary Institutional Rating System (PIRS).  In 2013, the White House decided that the nation needed a rating system that would evaluate the approximately 7,000 post-secondary institutions that participate in federal student-aid programs. (Read More...)