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Streamline Consumer-Information Process, Says Financial-Aid Group

Report: “Consumer Information Report”

Author: National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ Consumer Information Task Force

Summary: A nine-member panel was convened by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators to study federal requirements for consumer-information disclosure. The panel recommended 15 improvements in federal disclosure rules to “streamline both the content and delivery of those requirements.” The panel recommended that lawmakers:

  • Repeal the ban on a federal-level student unit-record system and develop a limited student unit-record system. Under a unit-record system, metrics for individual students would be tracked by the government to measure success. Congress banned a unit-record system after the measure was proposed by the Bush administration.
  • Eliminate reporting requirements concerning Constitution Day, voter registration, and athletic disclosures.
  • Require the Education Department and loan servicers to develop and disseminate loan-related consumer information, including debt management. Colleges should also be required to have counselors available to answer questions.
  • Review the exclusive use of first-time, full-time degree- or certificate-seeking students in the calculation of graduation and retention rates. According to the report, “many schools have larger transfer populations than first-time/full-time students, so identifying the appropriate metric to capture that student population would be beneficial to those students in their college-search process.”

Bottom Line: An improvement of consumer-information disclosure is needed, according to the panel. As Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act, the recommendations and others will form part of the association’s pitch to lawmakers for reform.

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