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Families hunting for colleges now can find such financial information as cost, average student debt and loan default rates of individual institutions at a single federal website.
The College Scorecard is designed to help families figure out where to get “the most bang for your educational buck,” said President Obama, who talked about the scorecard during his State of the Union address in February. The resource, launched by the Education Department, is part of a broader push by the Obama administration to lower the cost of college as Americans increasingly worry about their ability to afford higher education.
The loan default rate is helpful because it shows the ability of graduates to repay what they borrow to earn a college degree, said Tom Delahunt, a vice president for admissions at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Students who don’t find jobs or land only low-paying jobs upon graduation are more likely to struggle to repay loans, he said. He cautioned that some data on the website, in particular the net price of a college, are several years old. Universities, as a result, may have to explain to families why the prices they saw on the website are lower than the current costs, he said.
Data on wages for first jobs is a key missing piece of the website, said Mark Schneider, vice president at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. The Obama administration said it plans to publish information on earnings potential in the coming year.