Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Republican Senator Marco Rubio probably have more in common than it would help either man’s higher ambitions to admit. They both have a set of standards and decency that cause them to take affront to blatant evil. Individually, both have done the Lord’s work when confronted with disgusting DC. For Wyden, the lying suck-weasels of the NSA made him take to the Senate Hearing Room in righteous indignation. For Senator Rubio, it was hearing Senator Harkin offer fake praise to the socialist thugs in Cuba so that he could get a crony of his a contract to sell them farm equipment. So Wyden hates information cartels, and Rubio has a bone to pick with certain aspects of crony-capitalism. Thus, we get the fortunate happenstance of these two men joining forces to take on a crony-capitalist information cartel that is damaging the ability of average Americans to economically and socially advance in modern society. The two senators are offering The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act.
This bill would require colleges and universities to provide students data on how much they can expect to earn with Major X from University Y. The schools would also be required to give prospective students data on how much they could expect to owe upon completing their curriculum. The Higher Education-Government Complex has long sold the public on the statistical fallacy that majoring in anything makes you about $1m richer than people who never go to college. This is disingenuous because it deliberately makes no reference to the cost or financing of the degree.
Rubio and Wyden demand that higher education institutions provide the following four data points:
In particular, the bill is supposed to give students reliable information on:
Post-graduation average annual earnings
Rates of remedial enrollment, credit accumulation, and graduation
Average cost of the program (before and after financial aid)
The effects of remedial education and financial aid on credential attainment.
Beyond the gratuitous 480% inflation in college tuition over the last 25 years; this bill would also force colleges and universities that failed to provide value for what they charged to come clean. This would hopefully allow students to avoid schools who do not exactly hold the key to Upper Middle Class bliss within their hallowed halls of ivy.
Better yet, this could lead to a reexamination of whether everyone needs to go to college. There are well-compensated positions in skilled trades that go unfilled. They don’t pay what you’d get with a degree in Engineering. But, oh yeah; no debt load. This would make colleges start mapping majors and course content to problems that people solve in outside occupations. Also, if people stopped thinking college was the only way up and out, there would be a price ceiling on how much schools could charge. People with information and alternatives display muchgreater price eleasticity of demand.
Reforms such as the one proposed by Wyden and Rubio are a part of the solution to the higher education credential mill cartel. It will take a lot of innovation and deep thought to make the lower rungs of the American professional job market reachable to promising and talented individuals with limited means. Anything that weakens the ability of colleges and universities to profit obscenely off of the chokehold they have over professional credentialing will make America far more amenable to upward mobility and opportunity in the future. The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act is therefore one of the most commendable ideas currently in circulation. We should work to get this legislation passed.