The federal government already collects financial and academic data from colleges and universities.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is pushing fellow lawmakers to pass legislation that would create the nation’s first comprehensive online database for prospective college students who aren’t quite sure which campus would be best for them academically and financially.

Wyden told students at Oregon’s South Medford High School April 10 they should do their homework before choosing which college to attend next fall.

“This is the biggest investment you’re going to make in your future, other than buying a house,” said Wyden, D-Ore., who visited the campus to talk with students about The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, introduced in Congress in February.

Wyden is proposing the legislation, which would require federally funded colleges and universities to submit data to a national database detailing student debt, graduation likelihood, and other factors for their students.

The information would help students make more informed decisions when choosing a field of study and a college to attend.

“There is no Carfax for college education,” said Wyden. “There is no simple place to go.”

Wyden said much of the information that would be included in his proposed database already is available in numerous locations, but an online site would bring everything together and make things easier for students.

“The data [are] sort of strewn all over the countryside,” said Wyden. “I want you to have the information that ought to be easily available.”

The database would include the potential salaries students would make based on their major and which school they attend, and students could compare the results to the debt they might accrue while pursuing their degree.

A salary estimate based on a student’s education could be generated though public labor and wage records, Wyden said.

Wyden said he expects the legislation to pass this session, or early next year. The bill has bipartisan support, with Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., introducing the measure in the House.

Because federally funded schools already are required to submit much of the data to the government, Wyden says, no additional burden would be put on taxpayers or the government to make the database a reality.

During an open forum April 11, one South Medford student asked Wyden whether his legislation would help with the high cost of attending college.


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