NAICU Washington Update

NAICU Testifies Before Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance

September 12, 2014

In testimony before the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, which was hearing comments from the higher education community on President Obama’s Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS), NAICU Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Development Sarah Flanagan briefed committee members and attendees on both the support and concerns the Association and its members have with the possibility of a federal rating metric.

“In general, our member presidents support the idea of the federal government identifying a series of metrics that they believe families may want to consider when searching for a college,” said Flanagan in her testimony. However, “there is concern that the creation of a simplistic rating system will undermine the president’s own access and completion goals, goals that are strongly shared by the higher education community.”

Flanagan also told the committee that “to make a singular rating, the federal government would have to assign its own values of what is important, and to what degree. The values that the federal government has an interest in, and their relative worth, may not be the same as those for a student who is searching for a good fit school.”

The Advisory Committee was created by Congress in the Higher Education Amendments of 1986 to be an independent and bipartisan source of advice and counsel on student financial aid policy to both Congress and the Secretary of Education.

In closing her remarks, Flanagan noted that “at the end of the day, the federal government has a wonderful opportunity to help those students and families who are weighing options in higher education make a more informed choice. Drawing them away from existing ratings and rankings and onto facts would be a great service. Labelling schools with any kind of federal rating mark will set this opportunity back, not advance it.”

The hearing was held September 12 on the campus of NAICU member Trinity Washington University, and hosted by Trinity President Pat McGuire, a member of the Advisory Committee.

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