In an attempt to help families get “the most bang for their educational buck,” President Barack Obama launched the College Scorecard, and the University of Connecticut is all in.
The president announced the College Scorecard in his State of the Union address on Feb. 5 and made it available to the public the next day.
The scorecards include data regarding each college’s costs, six-year graduation rate, loan default rate, median borrowing, and will eventually include information pertaining to what kinds of jobs students get upon graduation.
“Our data’s good, so we’re all for it,” said University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst, whose scorecard proved to be more favorable than some of its competitors, including the nearby University of Massachusetts and the University of Pittsburgh, which now occupies UConn’s former top 20 spot on US News’ annual Top Public School’s list.
According to data released by the U.S. Department of Education, UConn has the 72nd highest net price — at $14,476 per year for in-state students — out of the 4,165 four-year public colleges reported.
In comparison, UMass has the 26th highest net price and the University of Pittsburgh has the sixth.
UConn also boasts a six-year graduation rate 24.5 percent higher than the national average, which is 58 percent.
The scorecard initiative appears to be well-intentioned and encouraging for Connecticut’s flagship university, but some of its details are vague and potentially misleading.
A New York Times article published last week detailed some of the kinks found in the data. Those kinks include data that is several years old, the use of averages and medians, and no option to do side-by-side comparisons of different schools.
Additionally, those looking to the scorecard only have access to a particular school’s average net price. This is the average price in-state students pay after grants and scholarships. But a school’s total cost is not listed. Neither is the out-of-state cost.
On UConn’s scorecard, the average net price listed is $14,877, which is not reflective of the school’s total cost that is over $10,000 larger at $25,220 a year. This total cost includes tuition, fees, and room and board before financial aid.
The listed net price for UConn is nearly identical to the average net price for families with a household income between $48,001 and $75,000. But, if you are a family looking to the College Scorecard and you make more than that, your average net price will be closer to $20,000 a year.
“Through tax credits, grants and better loans, we’ve made college more affordable for millions of students and families over the last few years. But taxpayers can’t keep on subsidizing higher and higher and higher costs for higher education. Colleges must do their part to keep costs down, and it’s our job to make sure that they do,” President Obama said during his State of the Union Address. “. . . My Administration will release a new College Scorecard that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.”
However, a highly anticipated portion of the scorecard is not yet available. The Department of Education is working on putting together information about how recent graduates fared in the job market. The tool may require legislative action because currently the government is forbidden from aggregating that information.
The Department of Education, according to a White House press release, plans to publish information on earnings potential in the coming year.
For families and students looking to get a more detailed analysis of a particular school’s financial facts and statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator provides more thorough in-depth numbers.