Obama Introduces New College Scorecard Tool

By Catherine Groux
Posted February 15, 2013 11:00 AM

Students can use the new College Scorecard to compare data on prospective schools.
Students can use the new College Scorecard to compare data on prospective schools.

During his most recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced that his administration would release a "College Scorecard" to help students and their parents compare colleges based on where they "can get the most bang for [their] educational buck."

Obama first proposed the creation of the Scorecard last January in a blueprint for keeping college affordable for all Americans. In June, Obama released a preliminary version of the online tool.

Using Obama's College Scorecard

When students visit the new College Scorecard website, they can type in the name of prospective colleges and see how much it typically costs students to attend the institution. Additionally the site displays the school's graduation rate, loan default rate, how much money students typically borrow to attend the college and what types of jobs graduates tend to hold.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he hopes the tool will add more transparency to the college selection process and guide students toward schools that will lead to the best educational and professional outcomes for them.

"Too often, students and their families don't have the right tools to help them sort through the information they need to decide which college or university is right for them," Duncan wrote in a blog post for the U.S. Department of Education. "The search can be overwhelming, and the information from different colleges can be hard to compare. That's why, today, our administration released a 'College Scorecard' that empowers families to make smart investments in higher education."

Room for Improvement

While the Obama Administration hopes the new College Scorecard will help students make smarter college choices, higher education experts say the site could use some improvement. The New York Times reports that some of the data on the site is a few years old and readily available on similar websites, such as the government's College Navigator. Additionally, the College Scorecard site only allows students to view one college's data at a time, while other sites let them see side-by-side comparisons of several schools.

Given these shortfalls in the new website, Terry W. Hartle, the senior vice president of the American Council on Education, told the Times that the Scorecard is "not a game-changer as much as the administration would believe."

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