Smart Advising for Students: Understanding Post-College Employment Rates and NetPrice Calculators
Neha Dahl, The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS)

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Friday, April 26

Data is a powerful tool in making decisions about postsecondary match and fit. This session discussed two metrics that are often misunderstood by students and their families when making decisions about where to apply and attend.

Students consistently rank the ability to get a good job as one of the most important factors in deciding whether and where to attend college, and policymakers on both sides of the aisle stress the importance of higher education employment outcomes. Given the magnitude of US investment in higher education and the wide range of outcomes students face, it is crucial to develop clear, accurate, and accessible information on the returns to higher education programs. Yet existing post-college employment success metrics are calculated inconsistently, difficult to verify, and hard to find. In this session, the presenter discussed current accreditor, state, and federal employment rate requirements as well as how the college access community can create more improved, aligned, and useful metrics.

When it last overhauled the Higher Education Act in 2008, Congress required that colleges make disclosures on their websites about the actual net price students would pay if they enrolled on campus. Colleges were supposed to clearly display tools called net price calculators that would show students total costs after subtracting grants and scholarships and factoring in students’ family incomes. But many four-year institutions are failing to meet federal standards for their disclosures more than a decade later. This session also included recommenations on how to advise students and their families about actual college costs and how to use net price calculators effectively.