March 06, 2019

Wyden, Rubio, Warner Reintroduce “Student Right to Know Before You Go Act” to Empower Students as Consumers

Washington, D.C. – Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mark Warner, D-Va., today reintroduced legislation to provide critical information to help students, families, policymakers and taxpayers better understand the costs and outcomes associated with higher education, while protecting individual privacy.

The bipartisan Student Right to Know Before You Go Act makes data available to prospective college students about schools’ graduation rates, debt levels, how much graduates can expect to earn and other critical education and workforce-related measures of success. Importantly, under the bill, these outcome measures would be available and broken down by individual institution and program of study. The bill also protects student privacy by requiring the use of privacy-enhancing technologies that encrypt and protect the data that are used to produce this consumer information for students and families.

“Students deserve the opportunity to make the best possible choices for themselves. With the massive costs of higher education, we must equip students with the information they need as they decide where and what to study,” said Wyden. “It’s time to put the power back in the hands of students and their families as they make important investments in their futures.”

“Investing in a college education is one of the most important decisions that students and families make,” Rubio said. “Before students take out thousands of dollars in loans, students should have information about how much money they should expect to borrow and their future earning potential for the schools and areas of study they are planning to pursue. The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act gives American families the opportunity to make more informed and cost-effective higher education decisions, and provides the peace of mind that this information is secure and protected.”

“Choosing a college or university is a major financial decision—it can affect students’ likelihood of graduating, the amount of student loan debt they will incur, and their future earning potential,” said Warner. “Students and families making such critical decisions have the right to know whether they are making a worthwhile investment, and this legislation will make important information available for those weighing different options.”

Currently, prospective students have to make costly and critical decisions about furthering their education based on information that is often inadequate, inaccurate or both. For example, the U.S. Department of Education makes a limited amount of institutional data available through its College Scorecard. Additionally, many states try to publish similar information, but the data typically only looks at first-time, full-time students or students who remain in the same state after college.

The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act requires the use of secure multi-party computation (MPC), an advanced encryption technique, to generate statistical data based on student information from colleges and universities, as well as loan and income information from government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Education. The process ensures the protection of the underlying data, so no entity is forced to “give up” sensitive information in a way that is accessible to others.

Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., Scott Peters, D-Calif., and Ryan Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced a companion bill today in the House of Representatives. Wyden, Rubio and Hunter have introduced versions of the bill in every Congress since 2012.

The bill text can be found here. A summary and chart of the bill’s key provisions can be found here. A section-by-section summary of the bill can be found here.