Cummings, Guthrie Introduce Legislation to Make College Costs More Transparent

March 27, 2019
Press Release
Bill Would Allow Families to Make Informed Decisions When Selecting Colleges

Washington, D.C. (March 27, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced the Net Price Calculator Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation to increase the transparency of college costs by improving existing calculators used by students and their families to estimate the costs of attending college.


"For millions of students each year, the decision of which college or university to attend and how to pay for it is one of the most important of their lives. This decision, especially for first-generation and low-income students, is made far too often without a clear understanding of how much their education is going to cost,” said Congressman Cummings.  "The Net Price Calculator Improvement Act will increase the transparency of college costs, and provide students and their families with more information to estimate how much they need to borrow, earn, or save to create the best educational outcomes."  


“College is simply too expensive, and the cost of attending a traditional 4-year university is rising every year,” said Congressman Guthrie.  “Americans are carrying more than $1.4 trillion in student debt, which currently exceeds auto loan debt – but when you buy a car, you know how much it is going to cost you.  Students and parents deserve transparent information about how much it is going to cost to go to school.  I was proud to introduce the Net Price Calculator Improvement Act with Rep. Cummings to make it easier for students to compare college prices and determine the cost of attending the school of their choice.”


Congress first required Net Price Calculator tools in 2008 when it reauthorized the Higher Education Act, but implementation has been inconsistent and has led to confusion among students and institutions over the specific data provided by the calculator.


The Net Price Calculator Improvement Act would improve existing law by requiring higher education institutions to display prominently on their websites the costs of tuition, room and board, and other expenses.  The bill also requires the Secretary of Education to conduct consumer testing to improve upon the universal net price calculator on the Department of Education website and report to Congress about the increased effectiveness expected with the changes.


Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.