TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Public? Private? Two year? Four year? How long will you be paying for this education? There are a lot of questions that weigh heavy on the minds of those seeking a higher education. But there are answers right at your fingertips. It's an underutilized government website called The College Scorecard.
It's an online tell-all for every college and university, public and private, in the country. The website has an easily searchable database with wide-ranging facts and stats.
Student loan attorney Christie Arkovich sees hidden value in the website.
"I like the fact that it shows some things that a school probably wouldn't want to put a spotlight on, like graduation and retention rates" Arkovich told FOX 13.
For example, a spot check of graduation rates locally shows the University of Tampa at 57% and Eckerd College at 66%. Both are private schools. Some popular public school graduation rates include USF St. Petersburg at 37%, USF main campus 68%, Florida State 80%, and University of Florida at 87%.
Then there are the two biggies: cost per year and salary after graduating. The salary range is 10 years after you enter school. If you've been in school four years, it would be six years out.
According to the College Scorecard, six years after getting an undergrad degree, a USF main campus grad would earn an average salary of $43,000 after spending a little over $11,000 a year.
Here's how other graduates fare:
- $56,000 versus $12,000 for the University of Florida.
- $46,000 versus nearly $15,000 for Florida State.
- $48,600 versus nearly $29,000 a year for the University of Tampa.
Arkovich says an imbalance in salary versus degree-cost could lead to prolonged student loan debt.
"If you are going to be making only $30,000 a year and you have to pay back $60,000 that may be difficult," she said.
That's why she believes community college should get more consideration.
"You were taught to go to the best school you could and get the best degree you can and it will all work out. That's not true anymore," Arkovich said.
A recent executive order called for the expansion of the College Scorecard. In the future, stats like salary, cost and debt will be broken down by programs and degrees. Arkovich sees that as a huge step forward for the scorecard.
For more information, visit collegescorecard.ed.gov.