Thursday, September 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Scorecard for colleges needs work, experts say

By
From page A1 | February 21, 2013 |

The steps that President Obama promised in his State of the Union address to control college costs and give consumers more information on the prices and values of individual colleges have drawn tepid responses from educational groups, who said the measures seemed generally positive but had many blanks to be filled in.

As Obama promised, the White House unveiled an interactive College Scorecard Web site last week that allows anyone to retrieve the net cost — not the full “sticker price” — of attending a particular college, along with data on student loan repayment and the loan default and graduation rates.

The new site follows other steps the administration has taken — including the introduction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s online college cost-comparison tool, and the creation of a uniform “shopping sheet” of financial information, since adopted by many colleges, to enable families to make apples-to-apples comparisons that had been elusive.

But some of the data in the new scorecard is a few years old, and most of it has been available from other sources, notably the federal government’s own College Navigator site. Further, the information is presented as averages and medians that might have little relevance to individual families.

The scorecard does connect to each institution’s net price calculator, which allows individualized cost estimates, but it does not provide side-by-side comparisons of multiple schools, as other government sites do.

“This puts the key data together in a consumer-friendly way, which I think is important, because even motivated and informed consumers have a hard time finding and interpreting the data,” said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success, a nonprofit group that works to make it easier to get information about colleges.

But her group complained that the borrowing and default figures in the scorecard were misleading, and said it was “two steps forward, one step back.”

One example of the sometimes confusing nature of the website: the average net cost figure for UC Davis after grants and scholarships.

A dial indicates where the campus falls nationally — on the line between “low” and “medium” — with the figure $14,072, without explaining that figure is from 2010-11, the most current number that’s been released by the Department of Education.

Alongside it in a box, the site indicates that net cost to UCD students declined 4.6 percent. That’s an accurate figure, too — but for 2007 to 2009.

The scorecard is “not a game-changer as much as the administration would like to believe,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, a major association of colleges and universities.

A spokeswoman for the federal Department of Education said the scorecard would “help families easily compare schools on value and affordability,” but said the department could not yet elaborate on the plans.

One highly anticipated element of the scorecard would show how the recent graduates of each school fare in the job market and how much money they are making, fulfilling Obama’s promise to show “where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.”

But that tool does not exist yet — the scorecard simply says that the Department of Education is working on it — and experts say it probably would require a change in federal law to put it into effect. The 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act prohibits the government from keeping the kind of information that would be needed: tracking millions of people’s educational backgrounds.

Similar information is already available, though it is not as complete as what the federal government could produce by tapping into tax return data.

PayScale, a company that analyzes payroll data for millions of workers, publishes annual rankings of colleges based on graduates’ long-term earnings. (PayScale ranks UCD 97th out of 850 colleges.)

Another group, College Measures, is working with several states to develop a system for rating the economic success of recent graduates by matching information from the colleges in those states to income data collected by the unemployment insurance programs.

Walter Robinson, UCD’s director of undergraduate admissions, said the information on the scorecard “is the truth, but it’s not the gospel truth.”

“It gets you close, but I don’t think it gets you spot-on to each institution you might be interested in,” he said, but added that he didn’t think that was a major concern:

“When it comes to the five or 10 institutions you’re seriously considering, you’re going to go to the primary source. You’re going to transition over to our website. When you do that, you’ll see the student testimonials, the credentials of the faculty and who we are. When it comes time to get down in the weeds and apply, you’re going to arrange a campus visit. And once you get to the UC Davis campus, it sells itself.”

The UCD page notes that its:

* Six-year graduation rate is “high,” at 81.7 percent;

* Loan default rate for graduates is 3 percent — versus a national average of 13.4 percent; and

* Students’ median borrowing is “low,” with families typically borrowing $14,500 in federal loans for a student’s undergraduate years.

Online: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/higher-education/college-score-card

http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator

http://www.ucdavis.edu/admissions/index.html

— Richard Pérez-Peña of the New York Times wrote this report, to which Cory Golden of The Davis Enterprise contributed. Reach Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Comments

comments

Wire and staff reports

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Jurors see Marsh questioned by police

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

     
    Grace Garden: Five years of feeding the needy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Bike sale on Friday will benefit King High

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A2

     
    Wildfire shows explosive growth

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Per Capita Davis: What to think

    By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A3

    International Festival moves to park for fourth year

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Essay contest underway

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Sudwerk Wet Hop Lager plants seeds for area hops rebirth

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Speakers plumb issues around the Constitution

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Governor signs bill to support state’s ailing bee population

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Backyard poultry symposium Sunday at UCD

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A5

    Forum will answer questions about new license law

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Australian pop band Dick Diver plays Third Space

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    RepowerYolo hosts solar seminar

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Local Girl Scouts are looking for a few good leaders

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5

    Reneau, Silberstein will read their poetry Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Parents host campaign coffees for Archer

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Nominate deserving volunteers for top citizen honors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    PG&E, Dixon company unveil truck that can restore power

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    $12M earmarked for UCD life sciences center in Chile

    By Karen Nikos-Rose | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Forum

    She’s had it with his neglect

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Off-leash dogs are a danger

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Davis makes the NY Times

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Affordable housing affects health

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Choose to wipe out hunger

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    DHS girls pound Mustangs in the pool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Davis captures final nonleague volleyball outing

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS golfers blow past St. Francis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils blow out Marauders at Brown Stadium

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Youth softball: Hurricanes win one of two slugfests with Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Youth roundup: These Diamonds are forever in the record books

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: Duffy comes up big for Giants in Arizona

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Young Devil harriers carry the day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Davis falls to Vintage in a JV shootout

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B3

     
    DHS girls tennis team stunned at Franklin

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    What’s happening, Sept. 18

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

     
    Students get into the act with Shakespeare

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Street-smart tips for safe cycling

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

     
    Eagle Scout project makes life easier for Yolo Basin volunteers

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    .

    Arts

     
    Wineaux: Back and forth in the high and low debate

    By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A9

    Catie Curtis brings folk-rock ‘Flying Dream’ to The Palms on Friday Sept. 19

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Jean Botelli

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, September 18, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6