20 U.S. Code § 1015 - Improvements in market information and public accountability in higher education

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(a) Improved data collection
(1) Development of uniform methodology
The Secretary shall direct the Commissioner of Education Statistics to convene a series of forums to develop nationally consistent methodologies for reporting costs incurred by postsecondary institutions in providing postsecondary education.
(2) Redesign of data systems
On the basis of the methodologies developed pursuant to paragraph (1), the Secretary shall redesign relevant parts of the postsecondary education data systems to improve the usefulness and timeliness of the data collected by such systems.
(3) Information to institutions
The Commissioner of Education Statistics shall—
(A) develop a standard definition for the following data elements:
(i) tuition and fees for a full-time undergraduate student;
(ii) cost of attendance for a full-time undergraduate student, consistent with the provisions of section 1087ll of this title;
(iii) average amount of financial assistance received by an undergraduate student who attends an institution of higher education, including—
(I) each type of assistance or benefit described in section 1078 (a)(2)(C)(ii) of this title;
(II) fellowships; and
(III) institutional and other assistance; and
(iv) number of students receiving financial assistance described in each of subclauses (I), (II), and (III) of clause (iii);
(B) not later than 90 days after October 7, 1998, report the definitions to each institution of higher education and within a reasonable period of time thereafter inform the authorizing committees of those definitions; and
(C) collect information regarding the data elements described in subparagraph (A) with respect to at least all institutions of higher education participating in programs under subchapter IV of this chapter and part C of subchapter I of chapter 34 of title 42, beginning with the information from academic year 2000–2001 and annually thereafter.
(b) Data dissemination
The Secretary shall make available the data collected pursuant to subsection (a) of this section. Such data shall be available in a form that permits the review and comparison of the data submissions of individual institutions of higher education. Such data shall be presented in a form that is easily understandable and allows parents and students to make informed decisions based on the costs for typical full-time undergraduate students.
(c) Study
(1) In general
The Commissioner of Education Statistics shall conduct a national study of expenditures at institutions of higher education. Such study shall include information with respect to—
(A) the change in tuition and fees compared with the consumer price index and other appropriate measures of inflation;
(B) faculty salaries and benefits;
(C) administrative salaries, benefits and expenses;
(D) academic support services;
(E) research;
(F) operations and maintenance; and
(G) institutional expenditures for construction and technology and the potential cost of replacing instructional buildings and equipment.
(2) Evaluation
The study shall include an evaluation of—
(A) changes over time in the expenditures identified in paragraph (1);
(B) the relationship of the expenditures identified in paragraph (1) to college costs; and
(C) the extent to which increases in institutional financial aid and tuition discounting practices affect tuition increases, including the demographics of students receiving such discounts, the extent to which financial aid is provided to students with limited need in order to attract a student to a particular institution, and the extent to which Federal financial aid, including loan aid, has been used to offset the costs of such practices.
(3) Final report
The Commissioner of Education Statistics shall submit a report regarding the findings of the study required by paragraph (1) to the appropriate committees of Congress not later than September 30, 2002.
(4) Higher education market basket
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education Statistics, shall develop a higher education market basket that identifies the items that comprise the costs of higher education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shall provide a report on the market basket to the Committee on Labor and Human Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives not later than September 30, 2002.
(5) Fines
In addition to actions authorized in section 1094 (c) of this title, the Secretary may impose a fine in an amount not to exceed $25,000 on an institution of higher education for failing to provide the information described in paragraph (1) in a timely and accurate manner, or for failing to otherwise cooperate with the National Center for Education Statistics regarding efforts to obtain data on the cost of higher education under this section and pursuant to the program participation agreement entered into under section 1094 of this title.
(d) Promotion of the Department of Education Federal student financial aid website
The Secretary shall display a link to the Federal student financial aid website of the Department in a prominent place on the homepage of the Department’s website.
(e) Enhanced student financial aid information
(1) Implementation
The Secretary shall continue to improve the usefulness and accessibility of the information provided by the Department on college planning and student financial aid.
(2) Dissemination
The Secretary shall continue to make the availability of the information on the Federal student financial aid website of the Department widely known, through a major media campaign and other forms of communication.
(3) Coordination
As a part of the efforts required under this subsection, the Secretary shall create one website accessible from the Department’s website that fulfills the requirements under subsections (b), (f), and (g).
(f) Improved availability and coordination of information concerning student financial aid programs for military members and veterans
(1) Coordination
The Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall create a searchable website that—
(A) contains information, in simple and understandable terms, about all Federal and State student financial assistance, readmission requirements under section 1091c of this title, and other student services, for which members of the Armed Forces (including members of the National Guard and Reserves), veterans, and the dependents of such members or veterans may be eligible; and
(B) is easily accessible through the website described in subsection (e)(3).
(2) Implementation
Not later than one year after August 14, 2008, the Secretary shall make publicly available the Armed Forces information website described in paragraph (1).
(3) Dissemination
The Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall make the availability of the Armed Forces information website described in paragraph (1) widely known to members of the Armed Forces (including members of the National Guard and Reserves), veterans, the dependents of such members or veterans, States, institutions of higher education, and the general public.
(4) Definition
In this subsection, the term “Federal and State student financial assistance” means any grant, loan, work assistance, tuition assistance, scholarship, fellowship, or other form of financial aid for pursuing a postsecondary education that is—
(A) administered, sponsored, or supported by the Department of Education, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or a State; and
(B) available to members of the Armed Forces (including members of the National Guard and Reserves), veterans, or the dependents of such members or veterans.
(g) Promotion of availability of information concerning other student financial aid programs
(1) Definition
For purposes of this subsection, the term “nondepartmental student financial assistance program” means any grant, loan, scholarship, fellowship, or other form of financial aid for students pursuing a postsecondary education that is—
(A) distributed directly to the student or to the student’s account at an institution of higher education; and
(B) operated, sponsored, or supported by a Federal department or agency other than the Department of Education.
(2) Availability of other student financial aid information
The Secretary shall ensure that—
(A) not later than 90 days after the Secretary receives the information required under paragraph (3), the eligibility requirements, application procedures, financial terms and conditions, and other relevant information for each nondepartmental student financial assistance program are searchable and accessible through the Federal student financial aid website in a manner that is simple and understandable for students and the students’ families; and
(B) the website displaying the information described in subparagraph (A) includes a link to the National Database on Financial Assistance for the Study of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics pursuant to paragraph (4), and the information on military benefits under subsection (f), once such Database and information are available.
(3) Nondepartmental student financial assistance programs
The Secretary shall request all Federal departments and agencies to provide the information described in paragraph (2)(A), and each Federal department or agency shall—
(A) promptly respond to surveys or other requests from the Secretary for the information described in such paragraph; and
(B) identify for the Secretary any nondepartmental student financial assistance program operated, sponsored, or supported by such Federal department or agency.
(4) National STEM Database
(A) In general
The Secretary shall establish and maintain, on the website described in subsection (e)(3), a National Database on Financial Assistance for the Study of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (in this paragraph referred to as the “STEM Database”). The STEM Database shall consist of information on scholarships, fellowships, and other programs of Federal, State, local, and, to the maximum extent practicable, private financial assistance available for the study of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics at the postsecondary and postbaccalaureate levels.
(B) Database contents
The information maintained on the STEM Database shall be displayed on the website in the following manner:
(i) Separate information The STEM Database shall provide separate information for each of the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and for postsecondary and postbaccalaureate programs of financial assistance.
(ii) Information on targeted assistance The STEM Database shall provide specific information on any program of financial assistance that is targeted to individuals based on financial need, merit, or student characteristics.
(iii) Contact and website information The STEM Database shall provide—
(I) standard contact information that an interested person may use to contact a sponsor of any program of financial assistance included in the STEM Database; and
(II) if such sponsor maintains a public website, a link to the website.
(iv) Search and match capabilities The STEM Database shall—
(I) have a search capability that permits an individual to search for information on the basis of each category of the information provided through the STEM Database and on the basis of combinations of categories of the information provided, including—
(aa) whether the financial assistance is need- or merit-based; and
(bb) by relevant academic majors; and
(II) have a match capability that—
(aa) searches the STEM Database for all financial assistance opportunities for which an individual may be qualified to apply, based on the student characteristics provided by such individual; and
(bb) provides information to an individual for only those opportunities for which such individual is qualified, based on the student characteristics provided by such individual.
(v) Recommendation and disclaimer The STEM Database shall provide, to the users of the STEM Database—
(I) a recommendation that students and families should carefully review all of the application requirements prior to applying for any aid or program of student financial assistance; and
(II) a disclaimer that the non-Federal programs of student financial assistance presented in the STEM Database are not provided or endorsed by the Department or the Federal Government.
(C) Compilation of financial assistance information
In carrying out this paragraph, the Secretary shall—
(i) consult with public and private sources of scholarships, fellowships, and other programs of student financial assistance; and
(ii) make easily available a process for such entities to provide regular and updated information about the scholarships, fellowships, or other programs of student financial assistance.
(D) Contract authorized
In carrying out the requirements of this paragraph, the Secretary is authorized to enter into a contract with a private entity with demonstrated expertise in creating and maintaining databases such as the one required under this paragraph, under which contract the entity shall furnish, and regularly update, all of the information required to be maintained on the STEM Database.
(5) Dissemination of information
The Secretary shall take such actions, on an ongoing basis, as may be necessary to disseminate information under this subsection and to encourage the use of the information by interested parties, including sending notices to secondary schools and institutions of higher education.
(h) No user fees for Department financial aid websites
No fee shall be charged to any individual to access—
(1) a database or website of the Department that provides information about higher education programs or student financial assistance, including the College Navigator website (or successor website) and the websites and databases described in this section and section 1015a of this title; or
(2) information about higher education programs or student financial assistance available through a database or website of the Department.

Source

(Pub. L. 89–329, title I, § 131, as added Pub. L. 105–244, title I, § 101(a),Oct. 7, 1998, 112 Stat. 1602; amended Pub. L. 110–315, title I, §§ 103(b)(1), 110,Aug. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 3088, 3094; Pub. L. 111–39, title I, § 101(b)(3),July 1, 2009, 123 Stat. 1935.)
Prior Provisions

A prior section 1015,Pub. L. 89–329, title I, § 131, as added Pub. L. 102–325, title I, § 101,July 23, 1992, 106 Stat. 465, authorized grants to eligible partnerships for education telecommunications activities, prior to the general amendment of this subchapter by Pub. L. 105–244.
Another prior section 1015,Pub. L. 89–329, title I, § 115, as added Pub. L. 99–498, title I, § 101,Oct. 17, 1986, 100 Stat. 1285, authorized appropriations for former part A of this subchapter, prior to the general amendment of this subchapter by Pub. L. 102–325.
Another prior section 1015,Pub. L. 89–329, title I, § 115, as added Pub. L. 96–374, title I, § 101(a),Oct. 3, 1980, 94 Stat. 1380, related to continuing education, prior to the general amendment of this subchapter by Pub. L. 99–498.
Another prior section 1015,Pub. L. 89–329, title I, § 131, as added Pub. L. 94–482, title I, § 101(g)(3),Oct. 12, 1976, 90 Stat. 2086, set out the Congressional findings with regard to the lifelong learning program, prior to the general amendment of this subchapter by Pub. L. 96–374.
A prior section 131 ofPub. L. 89–329, title I, as added Pub. L. 99–498, title I, § 101,Oct. 17, 1986, 100 Stat. 1286, related to National Advisory Council on Continuing Education and was classified to section 1017 of this title, prior to the general amendment of this subchapter by Pub. L. 102–325.
Amendments

2009—Subsec. (a)(3)(A)(iii)(I). Pub. L. 111–39substituted “section 1078 (a)(2)(C)(ii)” for “section 1078 (a)(2)(C)(i)”.
2008—Subsec. (a)(3)(B). Pub. L. 110–315, § 103(b)(1), substituted “authorizing committees” for “Committee on Labor and Human Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives”.
Subsecs. (d), (e). Pub. L. 110–315, § 110(a), added subsecs. (d) and (e) and struck out former subsec. (d), which required the Secretary to survey student aid recipients on a regular cycle, but not less than once every 3 years.
Subsecs. (f), (g). Pub. L. 110–315, § 110(b), added subsecs. (f) and (g).
Subsec. (h). Pub. L. 110–315, § 110(c), added subsec. (h).
Change of Name

Committee on Labor and Human Resources of Senate changed to Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of Senate by Senate Resolution No. 20, One Hundred Sixth Congress, Jan. 19, 1999.
Effective Date of 2009 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 111–39effective as if enacted on the date of enactment of Pub. L. 110–315(Aug. 14, 2008), see section 3 ofPub. L. 111–39, set out as a note under section 1001 of this title.
Student-Related Debt Study Required

Pub. L. 105–244, title VIII, § 803,Oct. 7, 1998, 112 Stat. 1805, which required the Secretary of Education to conduct a study to analyze the distribution and increase in student-related debt, submit a report to congressional committees, and include certain information as part of the comparative information provided to families about the costs of higher education, was repealed by Pub. L. 110–315, title IX, § 931(1),Aug. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 3456.

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