Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (07/23/2014)

Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act - (Sec. 2) Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) to eliminate the restriction of college cost calculations to those costs incurred by first-time students.

Eliminates the requirement that the Secretary of Education make publicly available on the College Navigator website: (1) college affordability and transparency lists, (2) state higher education spending charts, and (3) the multi-year tuition calculator.

Requires that the Secretary develop, annually update, and make publicly available a College Dashboard website that displays the following information regarding each institution of higher education (IHE) participating in the programs under title IV (Student Assistance) of the HEA:

  • a link to the IHE's website;
  • an identification of the IHE's type;
  • the number of students enrolled at the IHE;
  • the student-faculty ratio;
  • the percentage of degree- or certificate-seeking undergraduate students at the IHE who obtain a certificate within the normal time for completing their program, within 150% of that time period, and within 200% of that time period;
  • the average net price per year for undergraduate students at the IHE who are receiving student aid under title IV, calculated on the basis of the income category into which they fall;
  • a link to the net price calculator for the IHE;
  • the percentage of undergraduate students who borrowed federal student loans and obtained a certificate or degree from the IHE;
  • the average federal student loan debt incurred by undergraduate students who borrowed federal student loans in the course of obtaining a certificate or degree from the IHE;
  • a link to national and regional data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on starting salaries in all major occupations; and
  • a link to the IHE's website containing campus safety data.

Directs the Secretary to publish on Internet web pages that are linked to through the College Dashboard website more detailed and disaggregated information regarding each IHE's faculty and student enrollment, completion rates, costs, and use and repayment of financial aid.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) include on the College Dashboard website a function enabling users to easily compare information between IHEs, and (2) provide each student who submits a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with a link to the web page of the College Dashboard website that contains information for each IHE on the student's FAFSA.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) conduct ongoing consumer testing on the College Dashboard website to ensure that it is usable and easily understandable and provides useful and relevant information to students and families, and (2) submit recommendations to Congress for changing the information required to be provided on the website based on the results of the consumer testing.

Treats any reference in the HEA to the College Navigator website as a reference to the College Dashboard website.

(Sec. 3) Sets forth minimum requirements for the net price calculators that each IHE participating in a title IV program must include on its website. (An IHE's "net price," after taking into account this Act's amendments, is the average yearly price actually charged to full-time undergraduate students receiving student aid at the school after deducting such aid.)

Requires the link for the calculator to be clearly labeled and conspicuously posted on an IHE's website.

Requires each calculator's results page to include:

  • the net price of attending the IHE;
  • the cost of attending the IHE;
  • the estimated total need- and merit-based grant aid from federal, state, and institutional sources, that may be available to full-time undergraduate students enrolled at the IHE;
  • the percentage of such students enrolled at the school who receive any of that aid; and
  • a notice that an estimate of an individual's net price is non-binding and subject to change.

Requires calculators that estimate a user's eligibility for veterans' education benefits or for educational benefits for active duty service members to clearly distinguish those benefits from other grant-aid. Requires calculators that do not make such estimates to provide users with notice of, and a link to information concerning, those benefits.

Directs IHEs to populate their calculators with data from not later than two academic years prior to the most recent academic year.

Requires the calculators to: (1) clearly indicate which questions need to be completed for a net price estimate; (2) clearly mark requests for contact information as optional and provide estimates of net price, without requiring users to enter such information; and (3) prohibit personally identifiable information from being sold or made available to third parties.

(Sec. 4) Makes $1 million of the amount authorized to be appropriated to the Department of Education to maintain the College Navigator website available for carrying out this Act.