WASHINGTON – As the U.S. Congress begins considering a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a policy paper on Tuesday outlining new accountability proposals on how students and taxpayers can get a better return on their investment by expecting outcomes around completion, value, and access.

“I’m a revolutionary when it comes to reforming higher education. I just don’t believe that we can afford the system we have today, especially when so many kids start degrees and never finish them. We’re facing a cost and completion crisis in higher education that threatens to bankrupt students, families, and the American treasury if we don’t get serious about expecting better results from schools right now,” Murphy said. “There are a ton of fantastic schools in America that offer great value. But far too often, students are saddled with student loan debt and degrees that aren’t worth the money they put into them in the first place. And we shouldn’t be throwing money at colleges that fail to invest in our students’ futures. The proposals I have outlined begin to correct that by tying federal funds to real outcomes for students.”

In his proposals, Murphy lays out the need for the federal government to step up accountability efforts to ensure that colleges and universities are delivering for their students. Murphy’s proposal would create standards using a variety of measurements that ensures students who enroll in school complete their education without extreme and burdensome debt, pushes schools to admit and serve more low-income students, holds schools that choose not to invest money in their students accountable, and supports strong consumer protection standards.

The proposal:

  • Uses multiple metrics to identify schools that aren’t graduating enough students or whose students are not able to pay down their loans;
  • Describes the creation of an institutional spending screen to differentiate between schools that are investing in student success and schools that are siphoning tuition dollars away from student instruction;
  • Differentiates consequences between schools that are and are not investing in student instruction and creates a grant program to help struggling schools that are investing in student instruction;
  • Ensures that schools cannot backslide by admitting fewer low-income students to meet these goals; and
  • Supports strong consumer protection safeguards like the improving the cohort default rate, strengthening the 90/10 rule, and banning mandatory arbitration.

Click here to read the full report.