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Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman for his leadership and for bringing this bill forward. I appreciate the ranking member's support on this as well.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support the Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act.

American moms and dads are working tirelessly to help their children achieve their dreams. For many, that dream includes college. However, the cost of a postsecondary education has become increasingly difficult for a lot of families to bear. Young graduates today are not only confronting a tough job market when they leave school, they are continually facing a growing mountain of debt that is financially burdensome and extremely difficult to pay back. Many students choose schools and their majors without ever knowing the earning potential of their fields of study. This leaves many young Americans with a lower than expected income and struggling to pay down their loans once they graduate. For some, it can take decades. This has got to change.

In my home State of Virginia, we've become a leader in attempting to address this problem. In 2012, Virginia enacted a requirement that schools in our State publish information regarding the proportion of graduates with employment, their average salaries and higher education debt at 18 months and 5 years after graduation.

I expect that this data will become extremely useful to parents and students alike. Unfortunately, the data available to Virginia is limited to graduates who remain in the Commonwealth. This means that information available in the State database fails to fully capture students that graduate from a school, like the University of Richmond, which attracts students from 46 different States. Very often, they go on to take jobs throughout the country where they become leaders in their fields.

We can help resolve this situation. The Federal Government currently has a significant amount of data that could help parents and students make better decisions regarding the financial benefits of prospective schools and majors, but this information is often hard to understand or is difficult to access.

This bill requires the Secretary of Education to convene a 15-member advisory panel to provide recommendations on how to improve the information available to parents and students when deciding on their schools and majors. This panel will provide an interim report within 6 months and a final one within 1 year for Congress' consideration during the reauthorization of the Higher Ed Act.

This legislation will serve to kick-start the process of improving transparency in higher education and will provide students and parents with the information that they need to make informed decisions so that a college education can continue to be a source of empowerment for millions of Americans. This bill is a great step in the right direction.

I want to thank the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Messer) for his leadership, Chairman John Kline, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, and the rest of the Education and the Workforce Committee for their work on this issue, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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