The US Department of Education has released the much-anticipated College Scorecard website which offers details concerning the earnings of graduates from every college and university in the country.
Colleges are no longer ranked by quality on the website. Instead, the department was able to determine the income of college graduates 10 years after graduation by connecting data from the federal student financial aid system to federal tax returns.
The idea behind the change is to offer prospective students the ability to search for the institution that will best serve them. The new website allows users to search by the earnings and debt of graduates or student-loan payback rate, in addition to search options previously available on the original website, including majors offered and campus type.
“The old way of assessing college choices relied on static ratings lists compiled by someone who was deciding what value to place on different factors,” the White House said in a fact sheet accompanying the announcement. “The new way of assessing college choices, with the help of technology and open data, makes it possible for anyone … to decide what factors to evaluate.”
The website shows that not only will individuals who attend wealthier colleges earn more than those who do not, but also that making expensive decisions do not always pay off in the end.
According to the data, less than half of the students at a number of institutions across the country earn over $25,000 per year 10 years after graduation, which is about what a high school graduate will earn. Although the majority of the colleges listed include cosmetology schools and for-profit colleges, better known schools like Bennington College in Vermont and Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson showed similar results, writes Kevin Carey in The New York Times.
Currently, individuals who hold an associate’s degree earn an average of $10,000 more each year than those with a high school diploma. In addition, obtaining a bachelor’s degree will generate $1 million more over the course of a lifetime, writes Nicole Duran for The Washington Examiner.
The Obama Administration has put an emphasis on the affordability of higher education with the creation of the new website.
“That’s why everyone should be able to find clear, reliable, open data on college affordability and value — like whether they’re likely to graduate, find good jobs, and pay off their loans,” [Obama] continued. “Right now, however, many existing college rankings reward schools for spending more money and rejecting more students,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense.”