What We and Our Partners Think of the New College Scorecard Ratings System

Today, President Barack Obama announced a new College Scorecard and comprehensive data on student outcomes. The College Scorecard, created with input from students, families, and advocates, includes easy-to-access data on graduate rates, earnings, and student debt. Today’s announcement follows a series of higher education announcements by the Administration.

The Education Trust Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice José Luis Santos:

“We applaud the Department of Education for improving its College Scorecard and for providing students and families with valuable information to aid in their college decision-making. The update provides important information that for far too long has been nearly impossible for students, families, and taxpayers to access.
“However, simply releasing new data and relying on consumer behavior to create change is not enough to make a college degree more attainable for low-income students and students of color, as President Obama has pledged to do. As we’ve advocated in our Tough Love report, institutions need to be held accountable for supporting student success in exchange for the $180 billion federally backed financial aid they receive annually.
“In the coming weeks, we will release a report on Pell graduation rates of public and nonprofit private colleges and universities. Our analysis will explore the gaps that exist between Pell recipients and non-Pell students and identify institutions that serve Pell Grant students well. As we have demonstrated repeatedly through the years, institutions serving similar students often produce vastly different results – showing that institutional practices matter. When they have the will, campus leaders and faculty can equitably and effectively serve students. Unfortunately, too few colleges and universities have organized themselves around that goal.
“We urge Congress in their reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to use the data unveiled today to incentivize and sanction institutions that are absorbing precious financial aid dollars while leaving vulnerable students degreeless and saddled with large sums of debt.
“Congress can and must do more for the nation’s low-income students. While an important first step, transparency alone is not enough.”

Generation Progress Executive Director Anne Johnson:

“The Administration continues to take important steps to make higher education more accessible and affordable for both traditional and nontraditional students.   Between the launch of the Heads Up campaign calling for free community college, and now the release of the College Scorecard, it’s been a huge week for students. While there is still work to be done to address existing student debt, this College Scorecard represents a new level of transparency that gives students access to valuable information and the resources needed to make well-informed choices for their futures.”

Higher Ed, Not Debt Campaign Manager Maggie Thompson:

“We know from our work with students that some colleges, particularly for-profit institutions, don’t always live up to their promises. Too many for-profit colleges are not honest with students about the true cost of the school, graduation rates or their earnings prospects after graduation. This often leaves students to struggle with crippling amounts of debt. The new Scorecard is a great resource to get information into the hands of students, but we must also hold institutions with the worst outcomes accountable.”

To speak with a Higher Ed, Not Debt expert, contact Jamal Little at jlittle@americanprogress.org or 202.741.6251.

Young Invincibles Deputy Policy & Research Director Tom Allison:

“The new data is a big deal, and it has implications for improving consumer information, bolstering accountability, and helping institutions improve. This dataset answers important questions about employment outcomes, repayment rates, and transfers, and it breaks down the data by income, race and ethnicity, and first-generation status, information that is crucial and that we have long advocated for making public.”

“The data is at the institutional level, however, and it falls short of the flexibility and depth of a student focused-data system. For instance, we can’t break down median incomes by program or area of study. This is a problem because we know what students study is just as important as where they study. We urge the Department to continue building on this system and develop a long-term strategy to improve how we collect and use postsecondary data, by working with Congress to overturn the student unit record ban and overhaul our postsecondary data infrastructure.”

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