College Score Card vs Financial Aid Shopping Sheet

admin ., Financial Aid Industry News

On February 13, 2013, President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union Address.  During the address, the President touched on a series of higher education related topics.  One particular item that he highlighted, “the College Scorecard”, is worth taking note.  As has been previously discussed, the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet is voluntary at the moment.  However, the President is very keen on the idea of simplifying the college selection process for students and he strongly feels that this is the way to do it.  The Shopping Sheet and the College Scorecard are very similar in nature.  For example, almost all of the data shared in the margins of the Shopping Sheet –graduation rates, median loan amounts, loan payments, and default rate—are also recorded upon the College Scorecard.  However, the College Scorecard also has an employment section that will soon list the employment rates, and, as Amy Laitinen, a former education policy advisor at the Department of Education and White House anticipates, it will also list average earnings.[1]

The College Scorecard and the Shopping Sheet also have a few unique differences.  For one, the Scorecard is accessible online on demand.  The Shopping Sheet, on the other hand, is student specific including offered financial aid to students who have already been accepted to the selected institution.  Likewise, the Shopping Sheet can be campus specific, meaning, that a graduate school may have it’s own Shopping Sheet with information pertaining only to their student population.  Currently, the College Scorecard only targets dependent undergraduate students.  Though, it is important to note that there is an initiative to expand to scope of the Scorecard.

Regardless of how and when the information is accessed, students have more informational power than ever before.  They will be able to make more educated choices about where they choose to enroll and be more able to compare these institutions to their competitors.  This transparency will require institutions to be more thoughtful about their programming, career services, and financial aid packages.  In addition, it will be imperative that institutional reporting be accurate as this information will ultimately be what fuels potential student enrollment decisions.

[1] Sheehy, K. (2013). How to use obama’s college scorecard.U.S. News, Retrieved from