College Scorecard ex-director says Trump administration is scrubbing important information
The former director of a government-run college student website believes the platform will become less useful as the Trump administration cleans up information.
"We saw some announced changes to the scorecard over the past year, and in my opinion, these changes weren't beneficial for students who want to make the best college decisions," said Michael Itzkowitz, who worked in the Education Department ( ED) from 2010 to 2016 and oversaw college scorecard in 2015 and 2016, said Yahoo Finance.
The website contains data published by the Department of Education (ED) that shows how much debt a student will have in a particular college program and institution, as well as expected salaries and graduation rates.
"Essentially, it is the primary consumer tool that ED helps students use to make better college decisions," said Itzkowitz, who is now a senior fellow at Think Tank Third Way.
(SCREENSHOT: College Scorecard)
The Trump administration initially continued to develop the scorecard website, although it has reversed some other Obama era measures related to higher education and student debt.
More recently, however, the ED has stopped publishing school repayment rates. Although the data is still available, it is more difficult to find it on the website. (According to a presidential decree in March, more information on loan-based loan repayment results is likely to be available soon.) The ED also no longer published how former school students' earnings compared to High's earnings affect school leavers.
Both comparisons could have helped students understand whether the program they wanted to pursue was worthwhile and / or could afford.
Education spokeswoman Angela Morabito told Yahoo Finance that the college scorecard, led by Secretary DeVos, "has been completely revamped to help students improve transparency and hold schools accountable."
Morabito emphasized that the platform "for the first time ever" displays "wherever possible precise program level data", breaks down debt and revenue by subject area, and enables users to compare schools side by side.
President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The corner for nonprofit schools
The ED also changed the default search option to rank schools by their graduation rate - or graduation rate - instead of their employment outcomes. This move effectively put some for-profit colleges at the top of the list.
For example, if you were to search for colleges in Florida, the first search results would be sorted by graduation rate. The first school to appear is the Beauty Academy in South Florida, followed by the Florida Academy - both cosmetic schools.
Previously, the options were displayed in the order of the employment results.
"It doesn't sound too bad on the face level because completion is very important," said Itzkowitz. "However, this often leads to short-term, profit-oriented certificate programs often leading the standard search, many of which show poor employment outcomes for students."
In this screenshot provided to Yahoo Finance, Itzkowitz pointed out how low salaries were at college with extremely high graduation or graduation rates. (SCREENSHOT: ITZKOWITZ / SCORECARD
Education Minister Betsy DeVos faces several lawsuits related to the abolition of an Obama era rule introduced in 2014 to help victims of predatory, for-profit institutions.
The policy introduced by the Obama administration aimed to improve accountability and transparency among for-colleges, some of which were closed after student fraud. DeVos argued that some of the rules burden taxpayers unnecessarily and highlighted nonprofit universities.
Itzkowitz noted that nonprofit organizations are generally "most likely to leave students underemployed and with unmanageable debts," and data confirms this idea.
"Minimal federal laws that currently apply to hold institutions accountable"
In a new article, Itzkowitz examined data on how long it takes for a graduate to repay his student loans. He found bad news.
While the majority of students studying at colleges and universities manage to "recover the cost of obtaining their diploma," Itzkowitz explained in his work that a third of the students would not benefit in the short term from newly acquired ID.
(SCREENSHOT: Third way)
At 228 higher education institutions he evaluated, the students needed more than 10 years to pay for their education. And there was no return on investment in 442 facilities, which showed that "students will probably never be able to pay for their educational investment again," argued Itzkowitz. The kicker: 51% of these 442 institutions with an ROI of less than zero were profit-oriented institutions.
And because some Americans are considering higher education in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Itzkowitz feared that the information that is disappearing from the scorecard will result in potential students not knowing exactly what they are paying for.
"Essentially, there are currently minimal federal laws to hold institutions accountable for their students' results," said Itzkowitz.
Aarthi is a Yahoo Finance reporter who deals with student debt and higher education. If you have attended or worked at a nonprofit college and would like to share your experience, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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