Revised College Scorecard informs student decisions


IMG_0878By Jess Darcy
Senior Ariel Maret isn’t sure which college she’ll be attending in the fall. She’s weighing her options and seeing which ones are right for her. This is the case for many Prospect juniors and seniors.
The Obama Administration recently revised the government-funded College Scorecard, and many students are finding it more accessible and helpful.
The College Scorecard is a database that holds information such as average tuition costs and test scores for colleges nationwide. This helps students pick which colleges fit best only for their majors, but also their financial situations.
“I think [the College Scorecard] is a good starting point just to gather some data,” college counselor Diane Bourn said. “The thing that’s nice is that you can get that data on the websites of colleges and other places, but [the College Scorecard] is really one place where you can go to get that data all in one spot.”
Maret says the College Scorecard makes the college process easier for students.
“This is one of the most major decisions a student has [to make],” Maret said. “[The scorecard] is really nice because it compares how much people at other places are paying, and how much your school is asking for.”
Bourn says student loan debt has ballooned over recent years. In response, the government wants to educate college-going families so they know what they’re getting into and can prepare for the financial side of higher education.
But something that is a bit controversial about the College Scorecard is the fact the estimate of federal loans, loans offered through the government, for schools is a very rough.
“[The government] can give you a figure on the federal loans, but many of the loans out there are offered through banks that the government can’t account for,” Bourn said. “So, it’s not giving you a full picture, but I think the high cost of college and the huge amount of student loan debt was the main reason why the Obama Administration wanted to make college more transparent to U.S. consumers.”
To Maret, it’s very important to view the College Scorecard when choosing colleges, because there are a ton of colleges out there.
Maret has three criteria she is using to choose a college. One, it has to have a good return on her money. Two, the degree she’s earning must be worth something in the real world; she must be able to get a job after graduation. And three, she needs to be able to afford her the student loans.
But when thinking about student loans, Maret finds it somewhat scary.
“Students don’t actually know [about student loans] because the first loan you take out in life is a student loan,” Maret said. “And your student loans can’t be forgiven. You can’t get out of them.”
Despite this, the College Scorecard remains a reliable source of information.
“I think you have a better chance of [college information] being reliable data when it is a nonbiased entity like the government as opposed to a college putting out their data [because] it may be a little more biased,” Bourn said.