On Saturday September 12 the Whitehouse announced the release of an updated College Scorecard by the Department of Education. The new, improved version of the nearly three year old program has been updated to include former students' earnings, graduates' student debt, and borrowers' repayment rates. The website has also been given a new look and feel to make understanding the data easier.
In his weekly address President Obama said, "everybody should be able to find clear, reliable, open data on college affordability and value."
The redesigned look and feel allows users to easily see how colleges compare to the national average in annual cost, graduation rate, and the salary that prior students make. Users can also compare multiple schools, see the average ACT/SAT scores of accepted students, and check student diversity rates. To underscore the value of a college education the scorecard will now show how many former students at selected colleges earn more than about $25,000, the median salary for a high-school graduate. Users can see how many former students earn more than that average salary both six and ten years after they entered college.
However, due to limitations on how the data was gathered, these numbers may not be complete. The scorecard only reports the average salaries of students who used federal loans or grants to attend college, because the data was derived from a combination of Department of Education and IRS data. The American Council on Education, a national association of higher education groups said that "it remains concerned about the data" due to "significant data limitations."
However, the administration feels that the improvements made to this tool will help student consumers who are researching possibly the second biggest investment most Americans make. In a press release the Whitehouse said: "Access to better data will help students choose colleges that will help them learn, graduate, and find jobs. Access to better data will help colleges assess how well they help all types of students succeed during and after college. Better information can unite students, parents, advisers, policymakers, and institutions on goals to lower costs and to help more students graduate."