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This bill would mandate that a database be created which would track college students' academic data. The idea is that by collecting and tracking data on the students that graduate from these institutions and their various programs, prospective students can have information which will help them determine how and where to best invest their time and resources, thereby helping to relieve the student debt crisis in America today.
Assigned to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
HSLDA has long opposed the creation of such a database and remains convinced that massive data collection is not the solution to rising student debt. We believe that this bill would threaten the privacy of students, be susceptible to abuse by government officials or business interests, and jeopardize student safety. We believe that detailed data systems are not necessary to educate young people, and that the risks to the right to privacy far outweigh any potential benefit to be gained by such an Orwellian system of government tracking.
This bill would require any colleges that accept federal aid dollars to report data into the IPEDS hub, which would then collect and store millions of data points on college students across the nation. Colleges would have to report the earnings of their students as they pursue their careers, giving the government permission to track students until the end of their working lives.
This bill is designed to help address the growing student debt crisis in America by ensuring that students have the information they need about institutions of higher education, such as their chosen major’s success in the workforce, the average return on investment for particular programs or majors, etc. Supporters of this bill believe that this information will help parents and students make more informed decisions, and will allow them to find institutions and programs that will lead to their future financial and professional success.
While it is true that aggregate, non-individualized data can inform a student’s higher-ed choices, it is important to remember that the government will push the boundaries of privacy as far as the legislation allows. Empirically, policies that start out as harmless collections of aggregate data turn into dangerous tools to extract personal information from individual sources.
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