• November 24, 2014

Texas Posts College-Comparison Web Site for Prospective Students

Texas has opened a Web site meant to help prospective college students and their families get the most from their higher-education dollar.

The site, called Compare College TX, allows users to compare the state's public universities and community colleges on a range of measures, including how long it takes students, on average, to earn a degree; the average tuition and fees; and the average wages of graduates by degree level.

The site also has information on undergraduate acceptance rates, ranges of standardized-test scores for admitted students, and other demographic information on the institutions. Data for the site come from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The Web site is being paid for with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"This transparency will help more students earn a certificate or degree and achieve their dreams," Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, said at a news event.

Texas is also teaming up with the College Measures Web site to provide more-specific information on the earnings of graduates of particular degree programs. The College Measures site is a partnership of the American Institutes for Research and Matrix Knowledge, a consulting firm.

The earnings information on College Measures is compiled from state-level data on individual students in higher education and unemployment-insurance records. The site also has wage data for college graduates in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Virginia, with plans to add information on Florida and Nevada.

"As students consider these questions about college and begin to act on the answers, colleges and universities will ultimately be held accountable for the quality and cost of the education they deliver," Mark Schneider, president of College Measures and vice president of the American Institutes for Research, said in a news release announcing Texas' new Web site.

Several other entities have rolled out similar sites in recent months, including the federal government's College Scorecard and the California Community College system's Student Success Scorecard. Some individual institutions, such as the College of Saint Mary, in Omaha, have expanded the federal government's efforts by creating their own sites to present a more-comprehensive view of the costs and rewards of a degree.

Last month The Chronicle introduced College Reality Check, a Web site designed to help parents and students easily sort through the many factors they need to consider when choosing a college. The new service was produced with support from the Gates Foundation.

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