Hansen: Ranking colleges on the bottom line

Hansen: Ranking colleges on the bottom line

By Matthew Hansen February 28, 2013 5:50 pm 2 comments

This week I wrote a column about the Creative Center, a west Omaha design college whose graduates have a median student loan debt of $52,000, the highest in the United States.

I wanted to share a couple resources that helped me with this column, and can assist teenagers and their parents as they make a college choice.

The College Scorecard is part of a federal government push to make higher education information more available to the public.

Click here for College Scorecard.

Say a high school junior is looking at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Using the easily searchable scorecard, she can learn that the average UNO student pays $10,370 per year in net price, which is the cost of tuition and fees minus what the average UNO student receives in scholarship and financial aid that they don’t have to pay back. (The fact that the government is calculating net price is fantastic, I think, because it gives parents and students a more realistic picture of college cost than the tuition number often quoted by schools. It’s a little like going into a car dealership and being able to see the real number instead of the sticker price on that new Chevrolet.)

Students and parents can also check how much an average UNO student has in loan debt ($13,500, which is relatively good) what percentage of those students default on their loans, suggesting that the debt was too burdensome (7.5 percent of UNO students default, well below the national average)  and also UNO’s graduation rate ( 42 percent…not so hot).

The College Scorecard also lets you compare colleges to one another. Interested in an architecture degree that you can get from a school relatively close to Omaha? You can search by degree and region to find the universities around here that offer architecture, and then compare costs, student loan debt, graduation rates, etc.

The Wall Street Journal took the College Scorecard information and did its own, highly searchable database. I actually found this one easier to use when comparing colleges, though it isn’t as pretty as the government’s scorecard.

Click here for Wall Street Journal’s version.

 

 

 

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