New Government Scorecard for Colleges

Taken from Practical Homeschooling Magazine #107

January/February/March 2013 Edition

www.home-school.com

From the “We’re from the government and we’re here to help” department:  In February, the White House released its new College Scorecard.  According to the site, “You can use the College Scorecard to find out more about a college’s affordability and value so you can make more informed decisions about which college to attend.”

However, this isn’t a magic bullet for comparing the real costs of various colleges.  At least, not yet.

You can search for colleges based on majors, “awards” (the site’s odd term for degrees or certification), state, zip code, size, campus setting, region, and “distance education” (only colleges which exclusively offer distance-learning degrees).

This is not terribly impressive, as even the New York Times, usually a fan of such initiatives, has pointed out.  For years the College Board’s website has let you search for colleges by more criteria than those.

But there’s more!  If you have a particular college in mind, you can type in its name to see its net price (what the average student pays per year after his financial aid package is deducted), plus how much this has gone up in recent years.  You can also see its graduation rate (what percentage of students manage to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years of entrance), its loan default rate, and the median amount of debt in Federal loans per student (and what their monthly payment is to pay it back).  These are average amounts, and again, most of that information can be found elsewhere – for example, the US News & World Report’s annual “Best Colleges” guide.

Sadly, the most potentially useful statistic the site says it offers – what kinds of jobs and earnings graduates of that institution can expect – isn’t available yet, and the rest of the information (1) often is a few years out of date and (2) is already available from other sources.

Question:  Could this site be used to downgrade less-favored colleges?  Already, colleges whose students don’t get Federal loans are excluded (e.g. Patrick Henry College and Hillsdale College).

To check it out for yourself, visit www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/higher-education/college-score-card.