Sep 2019

Colleges provide misleading information about their costs

In lieu of regulating universities, Trump administration encourages them to furnish students with information on expenses and results — but some of the data is inaccurate

By Jon Marcus

Want to find out how much it will cost to go to Arkansas Northeastern College? The federal government has a website that promises you can “Calculate your personal net price.” But clicking on that link brings you to the college’s own home page with a fun photo of its cuddly mascot and no immediate sign of anything about cost.

Howard University? The link from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard takes you to a primer about how financial aid works. For the University of St Francis in Illinois, it lands on “page can’t be found.”

Some observers complain that’s not enough. Rather than taking the seller’s word for it, such important consumer information should go through external audits like the ones required of publicly traded companies, said Michael Horn, senior partner of the education consulting firm Entangled Solutions and co-author of the recently published book, “Choosing College.”


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