The federal government recently updated its College Scorecard, and once again has failed students and families by omitting Grove City College and other institutions that don’t accept federal student financial aid.
“The U.S. Department of Education continues to insist inaccurately that the Scorecard is a comprehensive means for families to evaluate all of America’s colleges and universities on costs and outcomes. Yet the Department ignores the data of private independent colleges such as Grove City College that don’t accept federal funds. Even worse, it does not disclose the omission to the public,” College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 said.
The Scorecard debuted last fall and reviewers quickly learned that Grove City College, among other accredited institutions, was not included. The Department said its analysis of college costs and outcomes was based on data from federal student aid recipients. Grove City College accepts no federal aid, including student loans and grants provided under Title IV of the Federal Higher Education Act of 1965. The College provides students with funded scholarships and access to private loans.
The Department of Education said in a news release that a goal of the Scorecard is to help students and families find “a school that is affordable, well-suited to meet their needs, and consistent with their educational and career goals.” By every measure, Grove City College meets that definition.
“American families are not getting the complete picture from the information contained in the College Scorecard. The Scorecard is not just about transparency. It is a way for students and families to find high quality schools that truly deliver on what they promise. If the government is committed to ensuring families have a deeper understanding of college choices, then it makes little sense to exclude data about schools like ours that are consistently excellent and affordable with a proven track record of outstanding student outcomes and graduate success," McNulty said.
The College Scorecard focuses on tuition, retention and graduation rates and graduate earnings. In each of these categories, Grove City College clearly exceeds the national averages the Scorecard provides for comparison purposes.
- Tuition for the 2016-17 academic year is $16,630 before scholarships and financial aid. That’s about equal to the $16,595 average the Department says students pay nationally after federal student aid, scholarships and other factors are figured in.
- Grove City College’s 85 percent graduation rate is double the 42 percent rate the Scorecard lists as the national average. The College’s freshman retention rate, a key indicator of student satisfaction, is 92 percent, which is 24 points higher than the national average.
- When it comes to graduate earnings, Grove City College graduates’ average early career salary is $48,100 according to PayScale.com, or 42 percent higher than the $33,800 average for college graduates included in the Scorecard.
“We’re disappointed that the Department did not respond to our formal request to include Grove City College in the Scorecard database,” McNulty said. “Unfortunately, this decision has resulted in the exclusion of colleges like Grove City from other national rankings, further compounding the Department’s error.”
In 2015, Money magazine’s annual “Best Colleges” rankings identified Grove City College as a school that provided students the best value for their tuition dollars based on educational quality, affordability and alumni earnings. Out of more than 730 colleges and universities, the College was in the top 12 percent nationally, number seven in the state of Pennsylvania and number 26 nationally. For its 2016 rankings, the financial magazine and website looked to the College Scorecard for data. When the new rankings were released over the summer, Grove City College wasn’t included.
“It defies logic that a school that is consistently ranked by others, including Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report, as one of the nation’s top private liberal arts and sciences colleges would go from Money’s top 100 one year to non-existent the next,” McNulty said. “If the Department wishes to serve the public interest, it should include all accredited institutions in its College Scorecard.”