A Simple and Appropriate Value-Added Measurement of Colleges’ Economic Benefit

The news talks all the time about our national problem of student debt, and the problems with the cost of colleges.   To solve this, there is a need for a simple measurement that is “objective” (or at least properly contextualized) that can be used determine whether a college (or program within a college) is likely a worthwhile economic investment.

The question that should be asked, is what is the average gain or loss of lifetime finances for those who attend each college program.   This shouldn’t be based upon graduates, but based upon all who enroll, including their student loans if they drop out.

This is what the U.S. Department of Education has been generally working towards implementing with their “gainful employment” measurements.  Unfortunately, as series of lawsuits from private colleges stopped much of the original work, and even the original focus was only on vocational programs.

But, it does sound like there will be at least some type of gainful employment measurement this summer.  I’m just surprised this hasn’t received more media attention.

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