Student success is a shared responsibility of the student, the institution and the federal government. Each of these partners must embrace a culture of accountability to the taxpayer. Students using federal student aid should be sensitive to college costs and the consequences of their choices. Institutional eligibility to offer financial aid should be tightened. The Department of Education should be more aggressive in using its Experimental Sites Initiative authority to incentivize and reward institutions of higher education for innovation. (But the department should never be authorized to determine academic quality.)
Better data reporting and analysis are needed. Generally, better data are needed across the board and should be transparent to the public. We need federal data on how Pell students are performing (retention, persistence, transfer trends, graduation rates, etc.). Workforce data can be a measure of student success but should not be the sole determinant.
We don’t claim to have all the answers. But we do know that working together, answers can be found. That’s the kind of approach on Capitol Hill that America’s students deserve.
Jenna Robinson is director of outreach at the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and Kimrey Rhinehardt is vice president for federal relations for the University of North Carolina system.