MPR NEWS: Education Dept. releases details on new college ratings system

Career College Central Summary:

  • The Education Department released long-awaited details on a plan to hold colleges accountable for their performance on several key indicators, and officials said they'll be seeking public comment on the proposals through February.
  • "As a nation, we have to make college more accessible and affordable and ensure that all students graduate with a quality education of real value," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.
  • The White House previously announced that the plan would tie federal financial aid to colleges' performance as judged by these ratings. This step, which requires Congressional approval, is not set to occur until 2018.
  • Here are some of the key details announced today:

    • First, the administration wants to know how well colleges are doing to expand opportunity for the disadvantaged. They're looking at metrics like the percentage of students who get Pell Grants, which are income-based. And the percentage of first-generation students.
    • Second, the framework includes costs. Not just the "sticker price," but the net price charged to most students after financial aid and scholarships. Is a college truly need-blind? How much do working-class and middle-class students pay?
    • And finally, it looks at outcomes. The most-used federal measure of graduation rates counts first-time, full-time students only. But, by 2017, the Education Department is scheduled to publicly release graduation rates for part-time and transfer students, who are more and more numerous these days.
  • One of the most controversial ideas that's been debated is some kind of jobs measure. This framework includes two different examples: What percentage of students have a job, say, six months after graduation? And what are their median earnings long-term?

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