A new free web tool created by CollegeMeasures.org
a joint venture of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and
Optimity Advisors, makes it easier to review the U.S. Department of
Education’s “Gainful Employment” data on whether the cost of career
training programs at colleges and other institutions complies with
On June 26, 2012, the Department released
data on career-oriented programs at for-profit colleges, as well as
certificate and vocational programs at nonprofit and public
institutions. The new web tool, available at www.collegemeasures.org,
is organized by state, and allows users to view institutions by name to
see if each of their programs complies with federal requirements.
be eligible for Federal financial aid, the institutions must show that
their students have been prepared for gainful employment by meeting at
least one of three performance standards – at least 35 percent of
students replay their student loans; graduates’ total yearly loan
payments are 12 percent or less of their annual income; or the annual
loan payments do not exceed 30 percent of a graduate’s discretionary
income – the amount available after paying for necessities such as food,
shelter and clothing.
“The metrics are the result of
legislation aimed at ensuring that students understand their labor
market returns relative to the costs of their higher education,” said
Mark Schneider, an AIR vice president and former commissioner of the
federal National Center for Education Statistics. “Our tool scans the
wealth of statistical data released by the U.S. Department of Education
and presents it in a handy, easy to understand way.”
is to inform public understanding and policymaking in this high stakes
process. Programs that do not reach minimum thresholds will, over time,
be subject to penalties, including loss of eligibility for federal
funding,” said Schneider.
“The massive amount of data released
by the Education Department is valuable, but can be difficult to review
if you aren’t a statistician or researcher. We are offering a
user-friendly way of accessing the information so policymakers,
journalists and the general public can use it,” Schneider said.
Here are some highlights from the “Gainful Employment” data:
the three federal thresholds, the easiest to pass was the Annual Income
to Debt ratio – 91% of programs passed on this metric, as opposed to
61% for Loan Repayment Rate and just 47% for the Discretionary Income
Debt to Earnings Ratio.
- Nationally, 5% (174) of the
Gainful Employment programs failed all thresholds for the three metrics.
Another 59% (2,187) of programs failed one or two metrics while 36%
(1,310) passing all three metrics.
- One of the most
successful states is Connecticut – none, of its 52 programs fail all
metrics, and 77% of its programs pass all thresholds, the second-highest
percentage in the nation.
- On the other end of the
spectrum, Alabama has two of 27 programs passing all metrics, with seven
programs (19% of their total) failing all thresholds. • Only 18 schools
had a 100% failure rate, and many of those offered only one program.
Sanford-Brown College in McLean, VA, had all three of its programs
- The largest institution with a ‘perfect record’ was
Grand Canyon University, in Phoenix, AZ. All twelve of its programs
pass all thresholds. Over half of its programs were education related.
field of study with the worst performance was Homeland Security/Law
Enforcement, which had 24% of its programs failing all three metrics.
The next two lowest performers were Visual and Performing Arts (15%
failure) and Communications Technologies (15% failure).
areas of study had a ‘perfect record’ of no failing programs, with the
largest being Mechanic and Repair Technologies (159 programs), and
Construction Trades (60 programs).
have not had an opportunity to review the data, they are invited to
submit additional information to CollegeMeasures.org by contacting
firstname.lastname@example.org. The submissions will be posted alongside their
institution’s Informational Rates.
The College Measures
partnership between AIR and Optimity Advisors uses data to drive
improvement in higher education outcomes in the United States.
in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes
for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit organization that
conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical
assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health,
education and workforce productivity. For more information, visit www.air.org.