Press Release

WASHINGTON (December 22, 2014) — José Luis Santos, vice president of higher education policy and practice at The Education Trust, issued the following statement on the U.S. Department of Education’s college ratings framework.

“As the organization that operates the longest standing and most widely used college comparison tool,, we know a good deal about the challenges of comparing the performance of colleges and universities. Though the devil is in yet-to-be released details, the ‘ratings’ framework outlined by the U.S. Department of Education avoids many of the pitfalls inherent in such systems and promises public access to data —including enrollment patterns by family income and graduation rates for low-income students — that have been hidden away for too long. As advocates, we applaud the move to put more of those data out into public view.

“That said, we do worry that the proposed framework conflates two purposes — supporting consumer choice and advancing institutional accountability — and does not go nearly far enough to advance accountability. As our data show, there are too many schools that essentially shut out students from low-income families, fail to graduate large percentages of their students, and provide students with degrees that hold little to no value in the marketplace. Despite that, the federal government continuously rewards these bottom-performing schools with dollars in the form of student aid and tax credits. The nation can no longer afford this troublesome practice.

“We hope that Congress and the U.S. Department of Education will address this problem together, taking action to ensure that the nearly $180-billion-a-year federal investment in higher education yields promising returns for students, their families, and for the American taxpayer.”