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The Daily Tar Heel

Financial aid, admissions offices say scorecards will help students

On Sept. 12, President Barack Obama unveiled his College Scorecard system, which aims to give high school seniors all the information they need about colleges and universities in one place.

The scorecard provides details on how to pay for school by giving a percentage of how many students receive aid and the amount of debt accumulated by the time they leave school.

“Basically, we as a country have turned higher education into the most complicated product a consumer will ever buy and then expected you to figure out all the details,” Eric Johnson, assistant director for policy analysis and communications in UNC’s financial aid office, said.

Instead of ranking colleges like other college ranking sites, the scorecard gives the basic information students and parents need, such as graduation rate, typical total debt after graduation and average earnings of students 10 years after they enroll in the school.

But with only basic information and no ranking system, students and parents might find it hard to compare schools across the board.

Johnson said the scorecards can do great things if people know that they exist.

“I’ll definitely promote the scorecard when I do presentations across the state for students who are still trying to decide where to go to college,” Johnson said.

UNC’s scorecard reports 75 percent of students attending UNC earned, on average, more than those with a high school degree and the University has a 90 percent graduation rate.

The scorecard also reports the average total debt of students is $15,906 and 21 percent of students have families with incomes of less than $40,000.

Johnson said the financial aid office at UNC is excited to see efforts of this sort because it gives students who do not usually have the resources or money a chance to apply to the school of their choice without worrying about the sticker price posted on the official school website.

Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions Stephen Farmer said he is glad to see a place that is more convenient for potential new students to research and find the information they need when applying to UNC.

“The more students learn and the more they know beforehand, the better off they’ll be when they come here and the more likely they’ll be to thrive. That’s what we want most of all,” Farmer said.

Farmer said the scorecard is not the only place students should look when applying to a school.

He said they should look at rankings and school websites, and consider their own personal impression of the school after reading about it online or visiting it in-person.

Thurston Domina, a professor in UNC’s School of Education, said the scorecard faces challenges in showing students a complete view of the school.

“There are so many things that we do in college that are just difficult to measure,” Domina said.

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