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After 18 months of discussion, in late December the US Department of Education issued a draft framework for its proposed ratings of american colleges and universities. The framework - rather than being a conventional ranking - proposes to divide universities into three categories: high-performing, low-performing and a category in between. The ranking will not consider institutions that teach only postgraduate students or that do not grant degrees.
The draft frameworks already contains the indicators that the Federal Government is considering (students receiving Pell grants, expected family contribution gap, distribution of family incomes, percentage of first generation students, cost of attending college, graduation and transfer rates, substantial employment rates, long-term median earnings, graduate school attendance and repayment of student loans) although no final decision has been made so far on their weighting.
Data will be collected by the Federal government and the system is planned to be released by the 2015-1016 academic year, after a public consultation aimed to ensure that the system can be understood by students and users. The reasons behind the US Government’s decision to create a federal rating system are the growing concern over the US higher education system, its limited social mobility and graduate’s employability, and the growing burden of student debt.