College Scorecard: Obama levels the playing field for students nationwide

HELEN SMITH
Guest Writer
smithhe@plu.edu

President Obama debuted his college scorecard, an online database full of information about college costs and averages a few weeks ago, in an effort to support students in making better college choices, according to the White House website.
During my first look through the scorecard, I was amazed. I looked through pages upon pages of college stats for places like University of Washington, Yale, Harvard and, of course, Pacific Lutheran University. I felt like it was some type of poetic justice. Finally the colleges are applying to you.

The website covers average costs of attendance, average SAT/ACT scores, average graduation and retention rates and financial aid packages.

What I admire most about the college scorecard is that it’s adding a bit of transparency to the application process. Colleges will tell you the highest amounts they might give for financial aid, but the scorecard tells you the average amount that students receive. With an added option to calculate an aid package, the scorecard gives families numbers they might actually be able to work with. Last year when I was sending off my college applications, I was taking a lot of shots in the dark. With something like this, I would have been a much more informed applicant.

With so many businesses out to solicit money from the application process, such as College Board and the Common App, I think the scorecard is a good combatant against a lot of the ambiguity surrounding what students can expect from colleges before they apply. It also helps that it’s coming from a third party, the Department of Education.

So how does PLU stand up against the national averages? I’m happy to say PLU does pretty well. Statistics show the average PLU student pays about $23,000 a year. Contrary to popular belief, students aren’t paying 50 thousand dollars a year for slow wifi, we’re only paying half that.

PLU also has an above average graduation rate, and students are able to start paying back their loans within three years. The website also has information on what everyone really wants to know: the average salary of a PLU graduate clocks in at about $45,000 per year. Not bad!

Although the website has great statistical information, it really doesn’t say who colleges are as institutions, so I suggest we start a petition to leave space on the website for colleges to tell us about themselves, in 350 words or less of course.

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