New government website ranks, compares colleges

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A new website created by the U.S. Department of Education offers more statistics on colleges across the nation than anything else like it.   

College Scorecard, released Sept. 12, has goals to provide students, families and counselors with data that gives them a transparent view of any given college, President Barack Obama said in his weekly address. 

The site allows Americans to rate and compare schools with all the usual statistics on colleges plus additional statistics that aren’t normally shared, such as average debt, average cost for in-state students after financial aid, and average salary four to three years after graduation. 

Obama said College Scorecard will help Americans choose the right college for them as the cost of tuition and student debt continues to increase.

“Searching for and selecting a college has never been so important,” Obama said. “Everyone should be able to find clear, reliable and open data on college affordability and value.” 

According to College Scorecard, Dixie State University is slightly below the national average in cost at $15,300 in comparison to the average at $16,800. DSU is also below the national graduation rate of 44 percent with a 35 percent. However, DSU students earn the national salary average of $34,000 shortly after graduation.

The data on College Scorecard is the clearest and the most reliable, said Lisa Gelobter, chief digital officer at the Department of Education. 

However, DSU’s statistics are not up to date. According to College Scorecard, DSU is a two-year school, but DSU hasn’t been a junior college since 2000. 

David Roos, executive director of enrollment services, said if students were to use College Scorecard to learn about DSU, they would get an incomplete picture. 

According to College Scorecard, DSU’s enrollment is 1,200 less than what is actually is, says no data is available for ACT scores, and it doesn’t list all the degrees offered at DSU.

Roos said he thinks College Scorecard is lumping some of the degrees into categories, and that doesn’t give students transparency. 

Where the data on College Scorecard is being sourced from still hasn’t been confirmed. Roos said they should be using the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

IPEDS and College Scorecard are both operated by Department of Education. IPEDS provides the most recent information about DSU. However, IPEDS doesn’t provide all the statistics College Scorecard is attempting to provide. 

Katrina McColl, a freshmen engineerinmajor from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, said one of the main reasons she came to DSU was because it is a university with affordable tuition.  

McColl said College Scorecard may be able to provide useful information, but the site needs to get the facts straight.

“That is just bad research on their part,” McColl said.