Student Life

Keeping Score on Colleges

The purpose of the College Scorecard is for families to see "where you can get the most bang for your educational buck," according to President Obama.

Elizabeth Hoyt

February 20, 2013

Keeping Score on Colleges
Introducing the College Scorecard, a tool designed by the U.S. Department of Education to provide data and information to prospective students and their families about a college’s affordability and value. While a rough version was released in June, the full version was just released to the American people this month. The College Scorecard includes five areas with key pieces of information about a college: costs, graduation rate, loan default rate, median borrowing and employment. The interactive tool was released in hopes to ease the difficulty families have in finding and searching for the correct information in the college decision-making process and provide them with the right tools to help them compare and sort through the information in order to make well-educated decisions for those seeking higher education. In using the scorecard, users can search for colleges by name or by criteria selection such as majors, location, and class size, and therefore choose a school that is well-suited to their goals, in terms of both education and career.
Additionally, users are able to connect to each school’s net price calculator and obtain an individualized cost estimate, which is necessary to understanding what the total cost of attendance will be. The scorecard’s available data will also be updated periodically to reflect changes and remain relevant. However, as with any new piece of technology, the scorecard doesn't come without flaws or criticism. Critics say that the scorecard should allow the layout of comparisons of different colleges against one another instead of merely displaying one institution at a time. A key feature, many say, would make the scorecard more user-friendly and helpful to potential students. Another criticism is the absence of a key scorecard feature: the data that shows a school’s recent graduates’ employment ratings and their earnings. It is said that this aspect will be available within the next year. Experts say, however, that federal law– specifically The 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act– may need to change in order for the data to become accessible to put the feature into effect.

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