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Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in support of the gentleman's legislation. I think it's an example of how we can work together and achieve a benefit for the American people. I commend him for introducing the bill and would outline our reasons for our support.

Probably the second largest expenditure most Americans make in their lifetime is a college education for themselves or for their children, second only to their real estate, to the home that they buy. It's surprising how little consumer information is available to families before they make that choice.

If you buy a phone, you can find out what apps it can run, how much bandwidth it has, how much it can store, what it can do, what it can't do. You can find all this information about what the phone cost, what it does, and how it works. But if you're about to enroll in a school that purports to teach Web site design, or if you're about to send your son or daughter off to a college to major in philosophy or engineering, it's surprising how little you know about that school.

The gentleman's proposal is that there be an effort by the Department of Education to make those data more accessible and more transparent for students and their families, questions that are natural to ask: What does it cost to go to the school? What happens to students when they graduate from the school? What kind of jobs do they get? How much money do they make? How much debt do they graduate with? Who transfers in and out of the school and what numbers? How many people finish their education at the schools?

I'm not suggesting that there is any one-size-fits-all list of questions, that it's the right list of questions. What I'm suggesting is that the maximum amount of information should be available to families and students to make reasonable decisions about this sort of thing.

The only comment that I would make further is that we would encourage, Mr. Speaker, the committee leadership to consider bipartisan legislation--that's been sponsored by Mr. Duncan Hunter, Jr., on the majority side; I'm involved in it on the minority side; and the other body, it's sponsored by Senators Wyden and Warner, along with Senator Rubio--that would create this kind of information in a user-friendly, Web-based environment as soon as possibly could be done.

I view this bill as complementary to this effort, and I look forward to working with the gentleman and the other leaders of the committee on this issue.

I would finally say that, on our side, we do strongly believe that the time has come for a full reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. There are a myriad of issues. Tomorrow, we will have student loan financing issues on the floor. There are questions about Pell Grants, the cost of college and numerous other issues that we think are best dealt with in an omnibus and comprehensive fashion.

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