Universities nationwide to be ranked federally

The Obama administration is trying to prepare Americans for the jobs of the future by focusing on creating a stronger school system, and one of the first steps is improving transparency and accountability in the nation’s institutions of higher education.

As part of the president’s commitment to holding colleges accountable for the cost, value and quality of higher education, the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center recently launched College Scorecard, which provides information including cost, graduation rate and loan default rate for every college, community college or university in the country.

“By making these key pieces of information available in an interactive and easy-to-read format, the College Scorecard enables students and families to compare colleges and make the best decision for their future,” according to the executive website.

College Scorecard is not the first of its kind, though. According to its website, College Scorecard draws much of its information from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, which is a mandatory survey for institutions that participate in or are applying for participation in any federal student financial aid program.

According to College Scorecard, UH typically costs $11,609 per year to attend, and the net price saw a 9.5 percent increase from 2007 to 2009.

The latest common data set reported by UH’s Institutional Research, however, puts the average cost for in-state undergraduates at $9,354 per year and at $8,760 for first-year students.

The College Scorecard reports that about 46.1 percent of UH students receive their bachelor’s degree within six years, while the latest retention and graduation report by UH places that number at 46.4 percent as of 2012.

The Department of Education is also working to add information about the average earnings of former undergraduate students at each university, as well as average loan default rates and median borrowing.

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