House Passes Cummings Legislation to Make College Costs More Transparent
Washington, DC —Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation that includes critical provisions introduced by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to reform the Net Price Calculator tool to provide prospective students with consistent and comparable price information for colleges and universities based on up-to-date data.
Cummings first introduced these provisions in H.R. 3694, The Net Price Calculator Improvement Act, along with Chairman Darrell Issa and Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, Ranking Member of the Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee. Today, these proposals passed as part of H.R. 4983, The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. Senator Al Franken introduced similar legislation in the Senate earlier this year.
Below are Cummings’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the House floor today:
"I thank Ranking Member Miller for the time and I thank him, the Chairman, and the Chair and Ranking Member of the Higher Education subcommittee for their work on this legislation.
"M. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4983, the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act.
"This legislation will help prospective students and their families by providing more accessible information about the costs of attending our nation’s colleges and universities.
"Today’s students are facing college costs that are at all-time highs, and they are wading into a system in which high debt loads are casually acquired accessories.
"The bill before us today includes provisions that I authored that will improve a tool already available to help students and their families assess the costs of attending college: the Net Price Calculator.
"A 2012 study by the Institute for College Access and Success found that many of the Net Price Calculators were “difficult for prospective college students and their families to find, use, and compare.”
"According to the report, students often have to guess where the calculators are located on schools’ webpages, what each school calls the calculator, and whether the information it provides is accurate. Additionally, veterans and servicemembers must try to determine whether the estimates provided by such calculators accurately reflect the academic benefits they have earned through their service.
"As Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, one of my roles is to help government work more effectively. My bill, the Net Price Calculator Improvement Act, H.R. 3694, addresses the challenges identified with current Net Price Calculators by ensuring that they will provide consistent and comparable price information for colleges and universities based on up-to-date data. My legislation would also ensure that institutions place the calculators in consistent locations on their websites and it would protect students who use the calculators from data mining.
"I applaud my colleagues on the Education and the Workforce Committee for including these critical provisions and urge passage of this legislation.
"As I close, let me note that the bill before us is an important first step in the process of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, and it contains important reforms – however, our work is not done by simply passing this bill. The bills before the House this week ignore the bread and butter of federal higher education policy – federal student aid.
"We cannot enact only the pieces of legislation to be considered this week, pat ourselves on the back, and leave the remainder of the Higher Education Act on the table. We must reauthorize the Higher Education Act in its entirety as quickly as possible.
"With that, I urge support of this legislation and I yield back the remainder of my time."
The Net Price Calculator Improvement Act is supported by the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators, the Institute for College Access and Success, Consumer Union, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Council for Opportunity in Education, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the Young Invincibles, the Center for Responsible Lending, US PIRG, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and the American Association of Community Colleges.