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  • Perspectives on the New College Scorecard

    On September 12, 2015, the Department of Education (DOE) issued its long-awaited update for the College Scorecard. In avoiding a comprehensive rating system to compare schools, the latest College Scorecard is a considerable improvement over the system originally envisioned by President Barack Obama. NACE, along with other higher education associations, urged the DOE to abandon the idea of a comprehensive scoring system due to the virtual impossibility of developing a fair one—the DOE listened to these criticisms. The newest Scorecard attempts to provide consumers, students, and their parents with information about costs, demographics, programs, and outcomes that will allow these consumers to make a knowledgeable and considered choice when selecting a college or university for attendance.

    The DOE’s goal is laudable and its effort commendable, at least as far as presenting information to consumers in an accessible format. However, NACE is still concerned with the quality and representativeness of the outcomes information provided in the DOE’s presentation. Due to limitations in the DOE’s access to data, post-graduation outcomes are limited to an average earnings number for an institution as a whole. Earnings associated with academic major, which may be more impactful than the institution attended, are not available. In addition, this average earnings number is based on only those students who have taken a federally subsidized grant or loan. The result is a very non-representative portrait for many schools—the number of students represented in this portrait can be as low as 5 percent of total graduates. Finally, there is no accounting of the number/percent of graduates who have achieved employment.

    Due to these limitations, we feel that consumer comparisons will be seriously flawed, and that the goal of the Scorecard will be far from achieved. We hope and anticipate that the DOE will work with NACE and the rest of the higher education community to mitigate the flaws in the current Scorecard.