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It’s no secret that the cost of college has risen dramatically over the past ten years. At the same time, the job market has been very difficult for most people. The goal of our site is to provide information that will help prospective students find and complete degrees that might actually move their careers forward.
In a way, all the information they might need is already out there. It’s just spread out across a number of different locations: the federal government’s many web sites; the web sites of independent organizations like the College Board (check out their BigFuture site, by the way – it’s an incredible resource) or accrediting agencies; and the web sites of the colleges themselves.
If prospective students had infinite time on their hands, they’d be able to visit all those sites and gather the data they’re looking for. But since infinite time is hard to come by, we believe that there’s a role for us to play.
Our mission is to bring together disparate bodies of data to produce a more holistic (but also focused) view of which colleges are likely to be the best value for the money. We end up with one number, an Affordability Score, with two main parts, a “Getting In” score and a “Getting Out” score.
We use these two measures because we think that most of the resources about college affordability focus too narrowly on the cost of getting to college. We think it’s just as important to look at what happens when you get out. Do students get out with degrees? Or do they drop out halfway through with a bunch of credits they still owe money for? And once they’ve gotten out, are they able to repay their student loans?
If you’re interested, you can read a more detailed explanation of our ranking methodology here.
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The main reason a lot of name brand schools aren’t on these lists is that they’re not (compared to the schools that did make it) cost-effective for the lowest-income families. There are plenty of exceptions, though.
There are different release cycles for different kinds of federal data. We update the major data sets annually, but in between, we’re constantly monitoring the links on our site to detect things like university name changes and closures. Tip: if you want to see how up-to-date a college directory website is, check for some of the more recent name changes on a list like this.
We’re just the messenger. We set some pretty specific criteria in our methodology, and we let the chips fall where they may. That said, we plan on continually evaluating our algorithm and tweaking it as we see necessary, so the listings may evolve over time.