David P. Lewis
As referenced in the post below, today the White House unveiled its College Scorecard. This interactive dashboard tool allows prospective students to enter the name of a specific school and obtain a snapshot of data points about that school, including:
- the average net price to attend (and the change in net price from 2007-2009);
- the graduation rate;
- the three-year loan default rate; and
- the median amount borrowed for undergraduate study and monthly payment required to pay that amount off in ten years.
There is a place as well for reporting average earnings of former undergraduate students at a school who borrowed Federal student loans, but that information is currently unavailable (the site notes that the U.S. Department of Education is still working to provide that data).
For prospective students without a specific school in mind, the College Scorecard allows them to search for target colleges based on criteria that include area of interest (degree & major, occupation and awards offered) and type of college (location, online v. ground, campus setting, and size), and then access the same data (net price, graduation rate, etc.) for the colleges identified through the search engine.
From playing around with the tool for a few minutes, I’d say that, at best, it offers a few interesting data points although it is very superficial and not really meaningful on an individual basis (the average net price and average loan tell a student nothing about what his or her actual net price and loan amounts would be). It certainly won’t substitute for any of the other typical resources available to students and their parents to diligence schools and programs (such as the individualized net price calculators now required on each school’s website and to which the College Scorecard links). Of more interest will be the student outcomes data when that becomes available.