The Grades Are In For Obama’s ‘College Scorecard’
In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced the “College Scorecard,” an interactive tool that helps college-bound students make informed decisions about the college application process. The scorecard was released last week in hopes of helping students and families get the “most bang for your educational buck.”
“Too often, students and their families don’t have the right tools to help them sort through the information they need to decide which college or university is right for them," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a recent statement.
"School counselors often cite the complexity of financing college as one of their most difficult challenges in working with families," said David Hawkins, director of public policy and research for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). "The new version of the Scorecard," Hawkins told Campus Progress, "provides information that will be much clearer to students and families."
Initially, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a “shopping sheet,” a one-page document that showed data on college tuition costs, what the average students owes, and how schools rank nationally in their net price.
A prototype of the scorecard released by the president in June received criticism from institutions such as the Center for American Progress (CAP), our parent organization, which called it “confusing” for students. The think tank also suggested the card include data on graduates' average salaries and student debt rates.
Julie Morgan, director of Postsecondary Access and Success at CAP said the final release of the college scorecard satisfies some of CAP's initial recommendations, but still has a lot of room for improvement. Morgan recommended that the scorecard include contact information for each institution, that it be more easily accessible for students, and receive consumer testing.
Still, the scorecard is effective at allowing students to search by institutions or by their desired criteria of an institution—the average cost of the school, the net price, the definition of net price, the graduation rate, the loan default rate, the average amount that students borrow, and the employment rate post-graduation. Students can also search for their desired career or major, school size, private versus public institutions, and location. Once the criteria are entered, the scorecard ranks the schools that fit.
President Obama's State of the Union address urged including "affordability and value" in the college decision process, but it can be a challenge to determine what makes any one college affordable or valuable. The College Scorecard is a step in the right direction.
Cherise Lesesne is a reporter for Campus Progress.
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