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We’ve made a lot of changes to the College Scorecard, and we want to know what you think.

TedMitchellTedMitchell 4 replies1 postsU.S. Dept. of Education New Member
edited September 2015 in College Search & Selection
I’m Ted Mitchell – U.S. Under Secretary of Education.

(Basically, that means that a big part of my job is to help make sure the country has the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world. Part of how we measure that is by the proportion of college graduates we’ll have by the year 2020. And as college costs and student debt keep rising, the choice you make when you’re looking for the right college has never been more important. Which brings me to the point.)

I’m hoping you’ll help me with something.

On Saturday, we released a newly revamped version of the “College Scorecard” – a tool designed to give students, parents, teachers, and anyone looking to get a higher level of education access to reliable data on all of the nation’s higher education institutions (and by the way – it was the President’s idea!). It’ll tell you things like how much a given school’s typical student earns once she graduates. How much debt she’s likely to graduate with, and whether she can pay back her loans. That way, we get a better sense of which schools across the country are doing the best job of preparing our students for success in the 21st century.

In short, it’s designed to give you key pieces of real-world information about potential schools to help you make the best-informed decision possible.

I’m proud of the tool we built. But the work is just beginning. In the months to come, we’ll continue upgrading the Scorecard based on what we learn from students, parents, and counselors – in other words, people like you. We want this thing to work – we want it to be easy to use, easy to understand. We want to make sure it will help you get the education you want.

So I wanted to put it right in front of you and reach out to you directly to start a conversation that starts with a simple question: What do you think? Take a look, enter your information, and share your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll be following this thread, along with other Administration staff, and will be responding to some of what you say.

So, go ahead – give it a shot: http://collegescorecard.ed.gov
edited September 2015
146 replies
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Replies to: We’ve made a lot of changes to the College Scorecard, and we want to know what you think.

  • WhataProcessWhataProcess 564 replies16 postsRegistered User Member
    As others have posted in related threads - it seems a bit misleading that the "income" data is only based on those students who had federal loans (or work study?) during their time in college. This should be clearer to readers.

    While the information regarding net cost for different income levels is there, the result of some searches gives you a single "net cost" value (again, like above) without it being clear that this is only for students with household income less then some "x" ($68,000?). A user, but particularly a student (16, 17 years old) looking at these results may not understand they have to look further to find THEIR likely net cost.

    Your database definitions under religious affiliation include 'none' and 'not applicable' (which is what the Navigator uses), however when doing an "advanced" search, those choices do not show up in the drop-down list, so there is no way to search by "no religious affiliation" (a little coding error, I'd guess).

    good luck!
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 37841 replies2065 postsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
  • TempeMomTempeMom 2970 replies25 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I like the way it looks. Easy to understand. I do wish that you'd break out any honors colleges...Those are competitive and resulting stats will therefore vary, probably significantly, from the regular student body (eg ASU/Barrett Honors college).
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  • TroyusTroyus 259 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I was disappointed with the site. The look and functioning were all top notch, but the data itself isn't all that useful. I have to admit to bias towards elite schools here. I'm sure it would have been very useful for someone who was looking at for profit schools to make sure they went to a quality institution and not somewhere with a 90% drop out rate.

    For elite schools (say, top 50 in the USNEWS rankings) the data is lacking. For instance, a 10 year horizon isn't really enough for schools like Reed, Oberlin, etc where a good percentage of students go on to substantial graduate work.

    So, for 80% of the population I think it's a valuable tool, but not so much for those of us who hang out here at College Confidential and are more focused on the top tier schools.
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  • prezbuckyprezbucky 4320 replies11 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 2015
    Along with other "pay data" issues mentioned by others, I wonder the following:

    Are wage & salary figures adjusted for standard of living? For instance, $50,000 does not have the same purchasing power in Boston and North Dakota.
    edited September 2015
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  • panpacificpanpacific 1289 replies13 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @TedMitchell: Could you explain exactly who are included in the calculation of average earning after graduation? Graduates who have had federal direct loans and who have received Pell Grants ONLY? How many classes/years have been tracked to come up with the average earning figures? Is the info regarding how many graduates or what percentage of graduates are included in the calculation available? Thanks.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12633 replies232 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    This is definitely a group that appreciates a link to methodology and data sources on ranking, scorecard, etc sites.

    I like seeing the average annual cost (incorporating need-based aid). Looking at my kids' college data it's dead-on accurate. Not so accurate for another college she was accepted to as it meets need when it wants to, not for everyone, but the effort is appreciated.

    The link to each school's NPC is also great, those can be hard to find on some college web sites.
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  • DominicBayerDominicBayer 350 replies25 postsRegistered User Member
    This is actually a great idea, even though it needs some improvements.
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  • funfatdaddyfunfatdaddy 354 replies2 postsRegistered User Member
    @TedMitchell....I have been working with the site the past few days and believe it offers some excellent data points for those making the all important college decision. I like the easy to read charts showing costs, graduation rates, and 10 year median salaries for those that used federal aid. I also like how the user can splice the data rankings several ways from the % above the high school wage, to 10 median year salary, to cost, to graduation rate, etc.
    A few suggestions I would like to see, but may not be possible. It would be great to see the breakout of females versus males and even race when looking at 10 year median salaries. Unfortunately women and minorities are known to be underpaid. If two schools had the exact same median 10 year salary, I believe, in general, the school with a higher percentage of women and minorities would provide more overall value. Also, I noticed that one of the large for profit schools showed very different costs and graduation rates for its various locations. However, the 10 year median salary was identical for all its locations. In reality we all know this is not the case, but it must be hard to distinguish the individual locations based on tax returns.
    Overall I really like the tool and believe it allows the user to make well informed decisions. Of course, one must look at his/her own financial situation, financial aid package, in state versus out of state tuition, merit awards, AP/IB/CLEP/transfer credit, etc. And even these considerations do not include the academic and nonacademic needs of the individual student.
    Kudos to you and your teams. I saw this tool when it first came out a while back and the updated version from a few days ago. I certainly noticed a huge improvement and believe you've created some great data points to help both parents and students in making their college decision.
    Thank you for this great tool and for asking for our insights.
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  • dfbdfbdfbdfb 3859 replies24 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @CollegeDadofTwo: I agree with most everything you say, but I have to disagree on your preference for mean salary data over medians—the median is a much more robust statistical measure, because it's less susceptible to changing due to extreme outliers. If you have a graduating class of 100 students (to pick a nice round number) that, 10 years out, has 99 individuals making $20thousand and 1 making $20million, the mean earnings of that graduating class is $219,800, but the median is the much more useful (and realistic) value of $20,000.
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  • TedMitchellTedMitchell 4 replies1 postsU.S. Dept. of Education New Member
    Hi @panpacific: Great question. Here's how we came up with this: First, we pulled data for freshmen who received federal financial aid (Pell Grants, loans, and campus-based aid) at each institution.

    Then we matched them with tax records, and measured their earnings at 6 through 10 years after they started. Both graduates and non-graduates are included in the measure.

    Each earnings data point that’s reported reflects to cohorts of students, so the 2001 and 2002 cohorts are measured in 2011 and 2012 for the 10-year median earnings included on the Scorecard. At some schools, there may be more or fewer students included in the earnings cohort, based on the percentage of students at the school who received federal financial aid.
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  • TedMitchellTedMitchell 4 replies1 postsU.S. Dept. of Education New Member
    Hi @dfbdfb - thanks for asking!

    Yes, the earnings measures only include students who received federal financial aid. About 70% of all graduating postsecondary students receive federal Pell Grants and/or federal loans. We recognize that both the fractions of students receiving Title IV aid and the fraction of students with grants, loans, or both vary greatly by sector.

    Given the limitations of our data, these are the best measures of post-college earnings currently available. Additionally, we did use the first-time, full-time completion rates reported to IPEDS on the Scorecard. That’s because, despite its limitations, those data are the most reliable completion data we have right now. However, we have identified a promising alternative in completion rates calculated using data on federal financial aid recipients.

    We know there are limitations with schools’ reporting on those data, and that new IPEDS rates for part-time and transfer students won’t be collected until next year - so we are working to find the most accurate, valuable completion rate data to help students and families.
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  • TedMitchellTedMitchell 4 replies1 postsU.S. Dept. of Education New Member
    Hi @TempeMom - thanks so much for the feedback. The data on the scorecard are provided at the level that the institution chooses to report to the federal government - in some cases, that means systems; in others, it means institutions or branch campuses.
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  • Sue22Sue22 6113 replies108 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    While in general I think this is a useful tool I'd also like to see the methodology used. I looked at the data for my child's school and I was surprised to see that the site listed my child's school as charging twice as much ($14,332) for students whose families earn $0-30,000 as for those in the $30,001-48,000 bracket ($7,196), and more than those in the $48,001-75,000 bracket ($13,949). Obviously this is not accurate.

    While this is not a fatal flaw it does make me question the accuracy of the site's other numbers.
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