- The U.S. Education Department's College Scorecard was updated this week to include preliminary program-level data on student borrowing as well as data on 2,100 non-degree granting institutions and graduation rates for non-first-time and non-full-time students, according to a press release.
- The consumer-facing tool already had profiles of 3,700 degree-granting institutions as well as data on first-time, full-time students, which the department noted in a release "may not be representative of all students at many institutions."
- Also among the changes are updated metrics including average annual cost, graduation rates and student demographics from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
The Scorecard was launched in 2015 by the Obama administration, and the Trump administration has pledged to expand it. In an executive order earlier this year, President Trump called on the Ed Department to update the Scorecard with program-level data on student loan debt and defaults as well as median earnings.
However, the scope of the tool has been debated, reflecting differing views about the role of government and institutions to provide students and families with more and better data to inform their college choice.
The Scorecard has been praised as a way to offer a fuller view of an institution than traditional college rankings provide, but some critics say it doesn't go far enough. The Institute for Higher Education Policy on Wednesday praised the changes but said data transparency remained an issue. The nonprofit advocacy group pointed to a federal ban on collecting student-level data as limiting the Scorecard's scope and relevance.
It called for passage of the College Transparency Act, a bipartisan bill that would lift the ban and allow for the collection of program-level data, including post-graduation earnings, employment and additional education.
However, the department under Secretary Betsy DeVos has largely focused on the Scorecard as an alternative to other accountability measures put in place by the previous administration, including gainful employment rules that require for-profit colleges to report graduates' debt and earnings.
Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, wrote in a blog post that the eventual inclusion of median earnings data in the Scorecard will allow students to run their own debt-to-earnings calculations. That is a requirement of the gainful employment rules that the Ed Department has said it can't fulfill because of a lapsed information-sharing agreement with another federal agency.