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Opinion: Higher education transparency is vital now more than ever

I want to share my perspective on our nation’s higher education system as I’m concerned students and families are not always able to make the best choices without complete information. At a time when our nation’s public and private institutions must deliver value and meaningful skills to their students, transparency is more vital than ever.

Karan Pujji

In Missouri, we have a number of concerning issues that threaten the trust students are placing in schools. Lower-performing schools across several categories — such as completion rates, students’ abilities to pay down debt, post-graduate income levels, and the performance of students from lower- to moderate-income backgrounds — are simply not delivering upon the promise of quality education. 

We cannot accept our state’s institutions – public, private, non-profit, and for-profit – to act in this manner. Whether it is a certificate program to work on an advanced robotics assembly line or a four-year degree to become one of our state’s next great business leaders, we need all institutions to serve students. 

The federal government can play an enormous role when it comes to policy that would address these issues. The federal student loan system, which funnels billions of dollars annually to these institutions, can be the driver of this change, threatening poor-performing institutions of their access to students harnessing federal aid and loan programs from enrolling. Such a threat would surely spur action on the part of institutions to perform up to the standards they promise to students and families when they seek admission and enrollment opportunities. 

A good start is S. 800, the College Transparency Act. Not surprisingly, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley has co-sponsored this measure, and I am grateful for his support of this bipartisan legislation. As the Senate considers higher education legislation, particularly the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, I would hope measures such as the CTA would be encompassed in broader reforms. It is crucial that we provide students and families the type of data that CTA calls for from our state institutions.