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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Government’s College Scorecard website misses mark on several counts

    In his most recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to make it easier for prospective college students and families to predict how expensive a particular university will be.

    The College Scorecard, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center, is set up using two different search options. If you’ve got prospective schools already in mind, you can use the search box.

    If you’re still curious, there is a three-by-five grid that will categorize results by location, interests and college type.

    If you search for the University of Arizona, you’ll find that the net cost, the amount of money owed after grants and scholarships have been calculated, for an in-state undergraduate is $12,185 per year for in state students. However, this number is from the 2010-2011 school year. The low, medium, and high scale is based on how the school “compares with average net prices among institutions that primarily grant the same level of award.” You will also find that the six-year graduation rate of full-time students is considered “high” at 61.4 percent, the federal student loan default rate is 6 percent which is below the national average of 13.4 percent, and median borrowing at the UA is considered “medium” at $178.50.

    You can also find that the average net price has increased by 15.3 percent at the UA, but there’s a catch. That data is only from 2007-2009, which doesn’t exactly set a trend.

    The data is interesting but the site is far from finished. There’s a final category that is supposed to provide information about the kinds of jobs students are getting after graduation, but it has yet to be calculated as there is a message telling the user to check directly with the school for the exact numbers.

    I also tried to compare the UA to Arizona State University, but to do this, I had to keep clicking back and forth between tabs. This was manageable for comparing just two schools but there should be a better way to compare schools side by side.

    The College Scorecard isn’t a complete loss and I do expect it to someday be a useful tool for prospective and transfer college students. But like so many other things in life, the government should be careful to not waste its time reinventing the wheel. There are dozens of college search tools that already offer the information currently on the College Scorecard. As it stands right now, it doesn’t deserve much higher than a “C.”

    — Nathaniel Drake is a sophomore studying political science and communications. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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