Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Information on Big Ten Schools from College Scorecard



Information on Big Ten Schools from College Scorecard

The Obama Administration originally proposed the creation of a web site to rank colleges.   They scuttled that proposal but did create a web site with data on performance of different schools.    The potential and the problems with this web site can be illustrated by considering a specific question.

 Let’s say you want to go to a big ten school because you love college football but you also want to get a good education and you want to minimize your chances of going too far into debt.   Can you use the data on the college scorecard portal to find the best big ten school for you?

Well the answer is maybe.   You can get a lot of information but the process is tedious.   Moreover, the information is difficult to interpret because schools different in many attributes – SAT scores, the percent of poor people, the percent of people who borrow, the amount borrowed, the future earnings of students …..

There are relationships among these variables that make it difficult (but in my view not impossible) to rank colleges.

Analysis:

The analysis in this post revolves around three tables.


The first table presents information on SAT scores at the Big 10 colleges.

Big Ten SAT Scores
Verbal SAT 25
Verbal SAT 75
Math SAT 25
Math SAT 75
Ohio State
540
660
610
720
University of Michigan
620
720
660
760
Michigan State
420
580
550
690
University of Minnesota
550
690
620
740
University of Iowa
540
620
620
680
Purdue
520
630
560
690
Indiana University
520
630
540
660
Rutgers
520
640
570
690
University of Maryland
580
690
620
730
Northwestern
690
760
700
790
University of Illinois
560
670
700
780
Penn State
530
630
560
670
University of Wisconsin
530
650
630
750
University of Nebraska
490
660
520
670
Min
420
580
520
660
25th Percentile
520
630
558
678
Median
535
655
615
705
75th Percentile
558
685
628
748
Max
690
760
700
790
Interquartile Range
38
55
70
70

Comments:

Big Ten students tend to do much better on the math SAT than the verbal SAT.   Why does this difference exist?

Northwestern (the private school) has the top SAT scores in the Big 10.  University of Maryland and University of Michigan also appear to have high scores.

The interquartile range of the verbal SAT score appears really small, suggesting that on this metric many of the Big 10 schools are fairly similar.



The second table has information on share of students with debt, median debt and share of students with Pell grants.

Big Ten Share of Students with Debt, Median Debt, and Pell Grant Share
Share of students receiving federal loans
Median Debt of People Completing College
% Pell Grant and Family Income Less than $40,000
Ohio State
46
22250
22
University of Michigan
37
22000
16
Michigan State
48
25714
24
University of Minnesota
45
21500
22
University of Iowa
47
22500
19
Purdue
39
23766
21
Indiana University
39
23628
19
Rutgers
56
22250
31
University of Maryland
36
19500
19
Northwestern
35
19200
14
University of Illinois
41
20950
20
Penn State
52
27000
18
University of Wisconsin
36
23000
15
University of Nebraska
40
22500
20
Min
35
19200
14
25th Percentile
37
21363
18
Median
41
22375
20
75th Percentile
47
23471
22
Max
56
27000
31
Interquartile Range
10
2109
4


Comments:


Share of Students with debt at a school is much more variable than median debt of student borrowers.    This is likely because median debt figures do not include PLUS loans or private student loans and because the amount a person can borrowed is capped by Department of Education Regulations.

The median share of students receiving a Pell grant is 20 percent. At most schools the Pell share is close to this figure.  This share is 14% at Northwestern and 31% at Rutgers.

The third table has information on yearly cost, % of students who return after first year, graduation rates, the median salary 10 years after entering school, and % of people who enter school with salary greater than a high school graduate.

Big Ten Costs, Retention, Graduation and Salaries
Cost
Students Who Return After First Year
Graduation Rate
Median Salary 10 Years After Entering School
% with salary greater than high school grad
Ohio State
17866
92
83
42600
68
University of Michigan
16287
97
90
57900
78
Michigan State
16507
91
78
49800
74
University of Minnesota
17208
90
74
47800
75
University of Iowa
14379
86
70
48700
77
Purdue
15543
91
70
52600
76
Indiana University
14174
90
76
45300
69
Rutgers
19770
90
80
54800
74
University of Maryland
16299
95
83
59100
80
Northwestern
28544
98
94
64100
83
University of Illinois
18798
93
84
56600
77
Penn State
27032
92
85
47500
71
University of Wisconsin
18387
95
82
51000
78
University of Nebraska
16294
84
66
43800
72
Min
14174
84
66
42600
68
25th Percentile
16101
90
73
46950
72
Median
16858
92
81
50400
76
75th Percentile
18695
95
84
56150
78
Max
28544
98
94
64100
83
Interquartile Range
2594
5
11
9200
6



Comments:

Half of Big Ten Schools have an estimated annual cost between 16,101 and 18,695.   The priciest school North Western with an annual cost of $28,544 is the only private school in the big ten.  Pennsylvania State is the most expensive state school in the Big Ten by quite a bit.  The least expensive Big Ten School is Indiana University at $14,174.

The percent of students who return after the first year ranged from 84% (University of Nebraska) to (98%) Northwestern.   The interquartile mean ranged was 90% to 95%.

Graduation rates ranged from 66% to 94% again with Northwestern the top school and University of Nebraska the bottom school.   The interquartile range in graduation rates is only 11 percentage points.

Salaries ranged from $42,600 for Ohio State to $64,100 for Northwestern.   The interquartile range, which measures the spread of salaries for universities in the middle, was only $9,200.

Relationships Between Variables:

It is important to recognize the existence of relationships between the variables.    The difference in the proportion of students who are low income and have low SAT scores may partially explain difference in future salaries and drop out rates.   Northwestern, the school with the lowest proportion of Pell Grant students had the highest future salaries the highest SAT scores and the highest graduation rates.

Northwestern probably is the “best” school in the Big Ten.   It is certainly the most expensive on the list.     The median debt figures suggest it does a good job giving aid to the lower-income students that it admits.   (Need to list a caveat.   The debt figures do not include PLUS loans or private student loans.)  However, the Pell Grant data also suggests that the Northwestern admits fewer students from low-income households.   This may be the factor that is driving the high level of performance at Northwestern.


Concluding thoughts:  There are a lot of numbers on the College Scorecard database.   It takes a fair amount of work to process and make sense of these numbers.   I actually had to download each university separately, take data off of several tabs from each download and input the data into a spreadsheet.   A more useful approach to delivering the data would allow users to input school names and variable names to generate a table.

University presidents vehemently opposed the use of college scorecard data to rank colleges. They claimed that honest rankings would be impossible to make.  
Maybe this is why the database tools on the web site don’t allow the user to easily compare many schools

There are in fact many reasons why students at one university fare better economically than students at a similar university.    My view, (to paraphrase the Godfather) is that the ranking process is difficult but not impossible.

Authors Note:  The author of this post has written several books that can be found on Kindle.

 a book on student loan forgiveness that can be found on Kindle.

Book on Student Loan Forgiveness


Book on Solving Financial Problems in Excel



Book on Nine Essays on Debt and Your Retirement





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