Homework: Feds Turn in First Draft of College Ratings System


Early this morning, the federal government unveiled its framework of what is expected to be a widely read and controversial database that rates the nation's colleges on student outcomes, affordability and access for low-income students.

The U.S. Education Department, which funnels more than $150 billion in student aid to the nation's colleges and universities, is seeking public comment on the plan and expects to have the system ready to go for the 2015-2016 academic year.

"Right now, prospective students and their families lack access to comprehensive and useable information for one of the biggest financial investments they'll ever make," said Jennifer Wang, policy director at Young Invincibles. "Taxpayers should not write a blank check to schools that fail to serve students." 

In its first draft, released early today, the Department of Education said it would focus on several key metrics including:

- Affordability: analyzing the average net prices paid by families at various income levels.
- Accessibility: analyzing low-income students' ability to secure federal Pell grants, the distribution of students by family income; and the share of students whose parents never attended college.
- Outcomes: analyzing graduation and transfer rates, loan repayment, and graduate school attendance.

You can read the full framework here.

And yes, there's already some pushback.

“What we have repeatedly said is the federal government ought to provide lots of information, but not be in the position of picking winners and losers,” said David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, which represents about 1,000 private schools.