During the State of the Union address, President Obama announced the White House’s new “College Scorecard“–an online initiative created to explain (and perhaps emphasize) the possible debt students may face when heading to college. The tool is masked as a way to help students compare costs and make educated financial decisions through examining different variables (cost, location, program of interest). But, it also acts as a macroeconomic tool, which assists the federal government in decreasing their overall debt in the future.
NYU’s reputation for bad financial aid precedes itself. In 2010, our accumulated student loan debt was higher than the combined GDPs of twelve different countries. So, naturally, the new “College Scorecard” tool doesn’t reflect so well on Washington Square Park.
According to the scorecard, NYU ranks ‘high’ in cost and median borrowing ($29,260), but low in dropout rate and loan default rate. Not only do we lack state funding, we rank as having the highest borrowing among schools with more than 10,000 students. What’s worse is that our ranking as one of the nation’s leading universities will be hindered by our near-future reputation for a lack of return on investment (ROI).
ROI is basically what President Obama said would help students figure out how to “get the most bang for your educational buck.” It ranks schools by figuring cost of attendance, graduation rate, employment rate and salaries for graduates. The College Scorecard has yet to fully develop the ROI tool on its website but, previously, NYU has been ranked 145th in ROI, according to payscale.com (NYU Poly ranks at 46th). It’s a far cry from being the #32 best university in the country.
However, the College Scorecard needs some work. It compares colleges apples-to-apples rather than community-colleges-to-Ivy-Leagues. The scorecard does not make much sense for an aspiring actor who wants to be close to his auditions but, rather, a marketing major looking to enter a more lucrative job market then, say, a teacher.
Huffington Post contributor Bill Destler, a professor at Rochester Institute of Techology, which has a high concentration of deaf and hard of hearing students, called the new tool out for putting all universities under the same cost umbrella: “…deaf graduates from RIT are employed at a much higher rate than the deaf population as a whole, they still have a more difficult time finding employment and they don’t earn as much on average as their hearing counterparts.”
Most of the College Scorecard’s information has already been available to the public through the government’s own College Navigator. The biggest difference? It’s not much new data but, rather, user friendliness.
In the future, this ranking tool may lead to a decrease in investments for liberal arts programs, due to their apparent lower value in the job marktet and, thus, their lower value to the federal government. At a notoriously artsy school such as NYU, this is really bad news. If the tool is embraced as a primary tool for college selection, NYU can only hope that it has enough applicants to admit for NYU 2031.