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Taxpayers spend $140 billion a year on grants and loans for college students. Our friends at Decode DC ask: Is the investment paying off?

The answer is that it’s impossible to tell, thanks to limits on accountability, many of them embedded into law and fiercely defended by the higher-education lobby. While universities have to report their graduation rates, there’s no centralized place to find out whether low-income students who receive financial aid do—on an institution-by-institution basis, or nationally.

This coverage comes against the backdrop of the administration watering down its proposed rating system, which would have allowed students and their families to obtain information like this and compare campuses. Colleges and universities argue that the most efficient way of tracking graduation rates threatens student privacy.

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