HARRISBURG – Senator Ryan Aument (R-36) and Representative Bryan Cutler (R-100) announced plans today to introduce the Higher Education Accountability and Transparency (HEAT) Act, legislation that will create a new online aid to help prospective college students and their parents pick a school that meets their educational and financial needs.
“Choosing the right institution of higher education is one of the most important decisions students and parents will make,” said Sen. Aument. “Our goal is to give students and parents the information they need to make the best, informed choice about what schools may be most appropriate for them.”
The legislation being offered by Sen. Aument and Rep. Cutler would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to create a comparison tool on its website to allow users to quickly and easily examine many of the factors that are important to parents and students, such as average tuition, graduation and transfer rates, percentage of students receiving federal aid and average borrowing amounts.
“Picking the right college makes all the difference in student achievement,” said Rep. Cutler. “Additionally, that choice can greatly impact upon a student’s life well beyond school, both professionally and financially. If the student chose a job that doesn’t pay the bills, major life accomplishments – such as getting married and buying a house – are often delayed.”
Sen. Aument and Rep. Cutler noted, for example, the increasing burden that students and families are experiencing due to student loan debt and the ability of students to find meaningful employment in constrained employment markets where there are more degreed professionals than is necessary to meet the current labor demands.
“If we want to create opportunity for students and parents to maximize the higher education experience, then it only makes good sense to give them the tools they need to be good consumers,” said Sen. Aument. “If families are equipped to make better initial choices, transfers may be avoided and on-time graduation rates may rise, which helps to eliminate additional higher education costs.”
Pennsylvania is home to many institutions of higher education, both public and private.
The legislation being offered by Sen. Aument and Rep. Cutler is only applicable to community colleges, universities within the State System of Higher Education, Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, Lincoln University, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology and any other institution of higher learning that receives state funding. The legislation would also include nonprofit colleges or universities incorporated in Pennsylvania.
“Our Commonwealth has so many great higher education options, and making relevant information available for students to choose the school that is the right choice for them will better position young people to work and live in Pennsylvania after graduation,” Rep. Cutler said. “Not only does it give them a greater chance of success, but it also benefits the Commonwealth by boosting the economy.”
(Sen. Aument) Jake Smeltz, (717) 787-4420
(Rep. Cutler) Alison Evans, (717) 260-6206