A scorecard "to compare schools based on a simple criteria"

The day after President Barack Obama promised to help control higher-education costs in his 2013 State of the Union address, one of the tools he promised-a scorecard "to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck"-went live on the White House website, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education College Affordability and Transparency Center.

By retrieving what it has to offer about 11 Baltimore-area colleges, a general bang-for-your-buck sense emerges. The five schools priced above $20,000 per year have higher graduation rates (average: 75 percent) and lower loan-default rates (average: 3 percent) than the other six, which have an average 38 percent graduation rate (not including University of Baltimore, for which data is not available) and an average loan-default rate of nearly 11 percent. Notably, Baltimore's three historically black colleges (Morgan, Coppin, and Sojourner-Douglass) are all in the lower-cost bracket, but have a super-low average graduation rate (23 percent) and an extra-high average loan-default rate (16 percent). Thus, in Baltimore, paying more for college improves prospects of getting a degree and a career that'll pay off the costs, while going to lower-cost colleges-especially historically black colleges-carries greater risks of getting neither.

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