Students who are just starting their college search might want to begin with the Department of Education’s new College Scorecard.
The interactive tool shows consumers how a school stacks up in terms of cost, graduation rates, student loan default rates, and median borrowing.
It is also designed to help parents and prospective students determine which college will give them “the most bang for their education buck.” One of several college-choice websites offered via the Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center—which houses the government’s College Navigator and Net Price Calculator Center—the scorecard should be used in tandem with other resources, says Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).
So what’s the value of the College Scorecard, and how should students use it?
“[It] may be a starting point, but certainly shouldn’t be the end point,” Draeger says. “You can go in; you can get some very basic information, recognizing that the data being used to populate the scorecard is federal data, which isn’t comprehensive.”
After using the Scorecard to get a general sense of where they might like to go and what they might like to major in, the next logical step is to talk to an independent College Counselor, such as Stacey Caskey at Biltmore Tutoring. A College Counselor can expose a student to schools that they may not have thought of, and which are the most generous with scholarship offers.