College scorecard highlights all-around value of UC

The White House’s College Scorecard unveiled over the weekend reflects the broad value of the University of California and the education it provides.

The interactive website, which bases its analysis on data from students who received federal financial aid, shows that the University of California is a good investment not only for students and their families, but for the federal government and the state.

“The University of California is one of the best values in higher education,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “The newly released scorecard showcases the excellent performance of all 10 of our campuses in the areas measured, including cost, graduation rates and student debt levels. I hope this scorecard will help to improve accountability — at all institutions — for the billions of student aid dollars distributed by the U.S. Department of Education.”

The scorecard shows that as compared with the national average, UC undergraduates have higher median earnings at the 10-year mark after enrollment. UC graduates also are much more likely than others to have begun to pay down their college debt, the data show. Only about half of UC undergraduates borrow to help pay for the cost of their education, while 55 percent of California students receive enough financial aid to fully cover tuition.  

Six-year graduation rates for UC students varied by campus, but all were significantly above the national average of 44 percent for four-year colleges. UC Berkeley and UCLA each had 91 percent of their students graduating within six years.

The financial and graduation data were among an array of new and previously released information included in the government’s scorecard. Other details included the percentage of an institution’s students who receive federal loans, and the average amount of debt.

UC campuses also were highlighted in documents released alongside the data. UC Irvine was praised as an “engine of opportunity” for contributing to social mobility by offering an affordable education to low-income students. UCLA was hailed for enrolling a large share of students receiving federal Pell Grants and serving them well.

In addition, five UC campuses — UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC San Diego — were listed by the Education Department as among 15 public colleges that fall in the top 10 percent of all four-year schools for their graduation rates and median earnings.

The release of the scorecard follows a series of recent national rankings that use varying methodologies to underline UC’s standing as one of the world’s preeminent research universities.

In the annual ranking of American colleges and universities by U.S. News & World Report, released last week, UC campuses comprised six of the magazine’s top 11 public universities. UC Berkeley topped the list, followed by UCLA at No. 2. UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Davis all made the top 11.

UC campuses also have placed prominently in recent rankings of world universities, universities that serve the public interest, and those that deliver a great education at an affordable price.