From Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels:
WP: Do you support or oppose the idea that the federal government should rate colleges and universities on which schools provide consumers with the best value?
Daniels: President Obama is concerned about both the affordability of a college education and access to college for students from difficult economic circumstances. Those are concerns I share.
We want to work with the president and Congress to ensure that costs and family finances do not prevent qualified students from considering, attending and graduating from college.
Clearly, more data about costs, financial aid and outcomes at individual schools can help students and families make more informed choices — choices that best address their unique needs, goals and circumstances.
But that is a key point: Each family is unique. Given the exact same data, families are going to make quite different decisions about colleges, because their needs, goals and circumstances differ.
So I would be very cautious about creating some sort of composite “value” rating of colleges and universities. Any rating system I can imagine assumes that different families care about the same things and place the same priority on each of those things. And, in reality, they do not.
Students make choices based on what is right for them and for their families. Transparent, easy-to-access information is what they need, not a “one-size-fits-all” rating system.
WP: If you support this idea, do you also support using the metrics that the president proposed: the percentage of students receiving Pell grants; average tuition, scholarships, and loan debt; and graduation and transfer rates, graduate earnings, and advanced degrees of college graduates. If you don’t support these metrics, which ones would you support?
Daniels: As I said, I am very cautious about a rating system. But, as I also said, information about how colleges perform is important to students and families. Knowing the number of students with Pell grants, for instance, does help to gauge how well an institution serves low-income students.
On graduate earnings: Our mission – especially at institutions that educate students in the liberal arts – is to educate students to be the best people they can be. When we accomplish that, a broad range of career options is open to them. We want our graduates to become the world’s best teachers, researchers, social service leaders and artists as well as the world’s best business leaders, doctors and lawyers.
WP: If you support the idea of federal ratings of college value, do you support or oppose the idea of linking federal student aid to those ratings?