The status quo in higher education is hard to penetrate, as the U.S. Department of Education was reminded about when it proposed a financial transparency plan for colleges and universities.
Higher Ed Dive reported that the federal agency floated the idea of creating a financial transparency website for students, which idea was met with criticism from higher education institutions.
The proposed website would provide information on every program in higher education, such as statistics on debt burdens, earnings of program graduates, as well as costs like tuition and associated fees. Each college or university will be required to give students information on how to access the transparency website.
The proposal would require programs with higher debt to have prospective students confirm that they saw the data before receiving financial aid from the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Education estimated that the website’s creation would lead to over 5 million work hours in the first year of implementation and about 1.5 million work hours in the years after its implementation.
Larger institutions could handle the bureaucratic burden, but smaller institutions may not be able to meet the federal agency’s standards unless they hire more staff and potentially raise tuition and fees.
An interesting wrinkle is that the federal agency already has a website called the College Scorecard, which provides data for prospective students. However, not many prospective students have visited the website to see data such as graduate earnings. One estimate is out of 16 million enrolled students in 2022, only 2 million students visited the Scorecard website.