The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, which became available in September 2015, provides prospective college students and their families with a useful tool for finding colleges and evaluating outcomes, such as graduation rates, median federal student loan debt at graduation and median and mean earnings. It is expected that this tool will eventually be integrated with the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator tool.
More importantly, though, is that the data used to create the College Scorecard will be used to enhance commercial college search web sites. Most of these web sites already use data provided by the U.S. Department of Education through the Institutional Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The College Scorecard data significantly expands the data that is available through IPEDS.
For example, it is now possible to calculate the return on a college investment for the first time. The College Scorecard data includes median and mean income for federal student aid recipients 10 years after the student first enrolled in college.
There are two main approaches to ranking colleges according to the return on investment.
Since students who do not graduate do not benefit from the higher earnings that come with a college degree, both metrics are multiplied by the college’s six-year graduation rate. This yields an approximation of the expected value of the college education.
These metrics may then be used to rank colleges, as illustrated in the following two tables. The rankings were filtered to include only colleges with a graduation rate of at least 75%.
Some colleges ranked high on both lists, including Princeton University, Stanford University, Pomona College, Rice University, Yale University, UC Berkeley, Brigham Young University, Vanderbilt University, UCLA and Duke University.
Most of these colleges had low enrollment of Federal Pell Grant recipients, since graduation rates tend to correlate inversely with the percentage Federal Pell Grant recipients. There were, however, a few noteworthy exceptions that appear to have a high return on investment despite a high Federal Pell Grant percentage: Hamilton Technical College (82%), Ranken Technical College (69%) and several of the University of California schools at 43% percentage Federal Pell Grant recipients.
Some of these colleges may rank highly because they enroll predominantly wealthy students or because the mix of majors is tilted toward more lucrative academic majors. Eventually, the U.S. Department of Education will provide data at each college according to academic major.
|Colleges Ranked by Earnings to Debt Ratio||Rank||Graduation Rate||Percent Pell Grant Recipients|
|Claremont McKenna College||11||92%||12%|
|Brigham Young University-Provo||13||78%||36%|
|University of California-Berkeley||14||91%||32%|
|California Institute of Technology (Caltech)||15||93%||11%|
|Washington and Lee University||16||90%||10%|
|University of Pennsylvania||20||96%||14%|
|University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA)||22||91%||36%|
|University of California-Davis||25||81%||43%|
|Washington University in St Louis||28||94%||6%|
|University of Florida||29||86%||32%|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||30||90%||21%|
|Santa Clara University||31||85%||14%|
|University of Virginia-Main Campus||32||93%||12%|
|Ranken Technical College||33||80%||69%|
|University of California-Irvine||34||86%||43%|
|Harvey Mudd College||35||90%||13%|
|University of California-San Diego||37||86%||43%|
|University of Southern California||38||91%||23%|
|University of Richmond||39||84%||20%|
|Hamilton Technical College||44||76%||82%|
|Carnegie Mellon University||45||87%||14%|
|Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art||47||82%||18%|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)||49||85%||17%|
|Colleges Ranked by Earnings to Net Price Ratio||Rank||Graduation Rate||Percent Pell Grant Recipients|
|University of California-Berkeley||3||91%||32%|
|University of California-Irvine||5||86%||43%|
|University of California-Los Angeles||6||91%||36%|
|Texas A & M University-College Station||7||79%||22%|
|University of California-San Diego||9||86%||43%|
|University of Florida||10||86%||32%|
|Brigham Young University-Provo||11||78%||36%|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||12||90%||21%|
|University of Pennsylvania||15||96%||14%|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||17||90%||16%|
|University of Virginia-Main Campus||18||93%||12%|
|University of Washington-Seattle Campus||19||81%||25%|
|University of California-Davis||21||81%||43%|
|Columbia University in the City of New York||22||94%||22%|
|University of California-Santa Barbara||23||80%||38%|
|Washington and Lee University||24||90%||10%|
|Harvey Mudd College||25||90%||13%|
|SUNY at Binghamton||26||80%||27%|
|Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art||29||82%||18%|
|University of Delaware||30||81%||12%|
|California Institute of Technology||31||93%||11%|
|The University of Texas at Austin||32||79%||27%|
|Claremont McKenna College||35||92%||12%|
|James Madison University||37||81%||13%|
|Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||38||83%||17%|
|Michigan State University||39||78%||24%|
|University of Connecticut||40||83%||21%|
|Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus||41||81%||19%|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||42||82%||15%|
|Florida State University||43||76%||31%|
|University of Vermont||45||76%||19%|
|The College of New Jersey||46||86%||18%|
|Rutgers University-New Brunswick||47||80%||31%|
|SUNY College at Geneseo||48||79%||23%|
|University of Georgia||50||83%||24%|
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