February 13, 2013

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Push to Gauge Bang for Buck from College Gains Steam.

U.S. and state officials are intensifying efforts to hold colleges accountable for what happens after graduation, a sign of frustration with sky-high tuition costs and student-loan debt.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) are expected to reintroduce this week legislation that would require states to make more accessible the average salaries of colleges’ graduates. The figures could help prospective students compare salaries by college and major to assess the best return on their investment.

A similar bipartisan bill died last year, but a renewed push has gained political momentum in recent weeks. “This begins to introduce some market forces into the academic arena that have not been there,” said Mr. Wyden, adding that support for the move is unusually broad given the political divide in Washington. Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the House majority leader, said he intends to support a similar measure in the House.

High-school seniors now trying to decide which college to attend next fall are awash with information about costs, from dorm rooms to meal plans. But there is almost no easy way to tell what graduates at specific schools earn—or how many found jobs in their chosen field. Supporters say more transparency is needed as students graduate deeper in debt and enter the rocky job market.

This is potentially very big.