Lawmakers discuss transparency for prospective students

Benjamin Farniok

The Senate Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a meeting on Tuesday that discussed four bills that call for greater transparency in recruitment of new students and the loans that they pay.

The first bill, authored by Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, would ask public postsecondary institutions, including the University of Minnesota, to disclose a range of information for specific programs including average program graduation rates, job placement after graduation and academic costs – including tuition and student debt costs.

One bill, authored by Sen. Terri Bonoff DFL-Minnetonka would require for-profit colleges and universities to disclose graduation, job placement and withdrawal rates for students.

Another bill, also authored by Bonoff, calls for greater clarity and disclosure in loans from private lenders including initial loan amounts, the due date of the first loan payment and contact information for borrowers to call.

The fourth bill, authored by Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina, also dealt with private lenders and students. However, Franzen’s proposed bill doesn’t set as many requirements on private lenders. For instance, there was no language regarding the lowest minimum payment, which is present in Bonoff’s bill.

All four of the bills discussed are open to further amendment and could pass into law before the end of the legislative session.