Higher education information: Reaching out, looking in

We live in the Information Age, as a Google search will confirm, and a couple of bills that sailed through the House Higher Education Committee Feb. 5 deal with information from and about colleges and universities. Both of the measures, sponsored by Rep. Drew Hansen of Kitsap County, aim to better inform students and parents about the schools, and help them make good choices among them.

House Bill 2694 actually relies on pre-Information Age technology: snail mail. It calls for the state to mail information about colleges to high-achieving, low-income high school students in order to boost the number of applications from those students to public and private colleges and universities. Hansen has said it is modeled on a successful program that produced an “eye-popping” surge of applications and admissions to top schools.

House Bill 2651requires state universities and colleges, including community colleges, to display prominently on their own web sites a link to information about their income and spending, which would be kept on a separate state web site. Included among income categories would be tuition, state support, gifts, and revenue from athletics; spending categories would include instruction, research, student services, administration and athletics.