Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act

Floor Speech

Date: May 22, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MESSER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 1949) to direct the Secretary of Education to convene the Advisory Committee on Improving Postsecondary Education Data to conduct a study on improvements to postsecondary education transparency at the Federal level, as amended.

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Mr. MESSER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in support of H.R. 1949, the Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act. I want to thank Chairman Kline and Higher Education Subcommittee Chairwoman Foxx for their work on and support of this measure. I also want to commend Ranking Member Miller, Subcommittee Ranking Member Hinojosa, and our Democratic committee colleagues for their contributions to this bill.

Few decisions in life are bigger than whether to attend college and which college to attend, yet many families struggle to wade through the complicated maze of statistics available to find the information they need to make fully informed, cost-conscious decisions. Consequently, they may choose schools or programs that don't meet their needs and leave them with high debt and limited career potential.

Despite Federal efforts to improve data collection and transparency in the higher education system, families and students still struggle, and institutions of higher learning are spending more time and money than ever. During the 2012-2013 academic year, institutions spent an estimated 850,000 man-hours and almost $31 million to fill out required Federal surveys. Higher education leaders have highlighted several of these requirements as duplicative to State and local transparency efforts and may partially contribute to the increase in college costs.

Through the Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act, we hope to simplify this process and help ensure students can access the information they need to make good decisions while lessening the burden on colleges and universities that have far too many reporting requirements today. The bill would require the Department of Education to evaluate the information colleges and universities are required to provide to determine what helps make students better consumers and what simply buries them in paper--and the schools they attend in paper, as well.

The information yielded by this report will play a critical role in assisting the Education and Workforce Committee's efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. We need to ensure students have the information they actually need in a user-friendly manner to help them make the best decisions they can.

We also must streamline the current regulatory burden of unnecessary and unhelpful reporting requirements imposed on institutions of higher education. This bill will help guide that process.

I urge all of our colleagues to support the Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MESSER. I am a former State legislator from Indiana. They used to say on the House floor back there, ``Good bill. Should pass,'' and it's great when you have the opportunity to work together across the aisle on a bill that just makes sense.

My colleague from North Carolina (Ms. Foxx) made the comment that there is a lot of data out there for families but that there is a difference between data and information. Our goal with this bill is to help bring this data together, to get past the data dump and to try to get families the information they need while at the same time lessening the regulatory burden on our colleges and universities. They're doing the best they can with limited resources as well.

So, with that, I urge my colleagues to support the bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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