May 24, 2013

Wyden and Warner use Twitter to Discuss Bill that Helps Students Choose Colleges and Programs

Student Right to Know Before You Go Act Would Make Accurate Graduation, Debt and Earnings Data Available

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mark Warner, D-Va., answered questions through Twitter about their bipartisan bill aimed at helping students trying to choose between colleges and degree programs by making a wide range of accurate, comparative and easy to understand information available about debt, employment and graduation rates.

Wyden and Warner spent 30 minutes together using Twitter to read and reply to questions and comments about the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act from more than 20 Twitter users. Twitter is a real-time information network that allows its more than 200 million users to send and read messages, known as “Tweets,” of up to 140 characters.

View the conversation here!

The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2013 would streamline existing institutional reporting requirements to enable students, families, institutions, and policymakers to assess schools and programs based on a wide range of key data including graduation rates for non-traditional students, transfer rates, frequency with which graduates go on to pursue higher levels of education, student debt and post-graduation earnings and employment outcomes.

Wyden and Warner answered a wide range of questions about the benefits, costs, accuracy and privacy protections, among other things.

The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and a House version is sponsored by U.S. Representatives Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Robert Andrews, D-N.J.

Currently, prospective students are forced to make costly and critical decisions about furthering their education with very little or inaccurate information. For example, the U.S. Department of Education makes some institutional data available through its College Scorecard, but the information is, at best, extremely limited. States and private web sites also try to put out similar information, but the data typically only examines first-time, full-time students or students who remain within a given state after college.

The legislation would direct the Secretary of Education to make the information available online in an easily accessible format. Individual privacy would be strictly maintained with safeguards to ensure that no personally identifiable information could ever be disclosed, and the system would be audited for data quality, validity and reliability.

Using information that is already gathered, the bill would allow student records to be matched with employment and earnings data. The results would be highly accurate and informative. This would finally provide students and their families the opportunity and tools needed for a more complete picture of the value of their education.