Too many North Carolina students leave their universities with too much debt and a degree that won’t pay off.
A new tool released in January by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) reveals which programs give students the most (and least) return on their investment. The tool uses data from the College Scorecard as well as the now-repealed Gainful Employment regulations to determine which programs “pay off.”
TPPF’s website includes this explanation of the rule:
Gainful Employment (GE) were old regulations that tried to hold colleges accouxntable by establishing cutoffs for two debt-to-income rates…Programs would receive one of three gainful employment scores – ‘Pass’ for programs with low debt relative to earning, ‘Fail’ for programs with high debt relative to earnings, and ‘Zone’ which was basically a probationary rating.
According to TPPF’s new tool, earnings and debt data were available for 28,812 UNC system students who graduated between 2014 and 2016. Of those, 57 percent graduated from programs that would pass TPPF’s “Gainful Employment Equivalent.” About 33 percent graduated from programs that would be on probation (Zone), and 2,891 (10 percent) graduated from programs that would fail. Earnings or debt data were unavailable for 459 UNC system programs.
The website projects, “If these percentages are representative of all graduates, then of the 72,437 total graduates, 41,292 graduated from programs that would pass Gainful Employment Equivalent, 23,877 graduated from programs that would be on probation (Zone), and 7,268 graduated from programs that would fail.”
The tool, “College Earnings and Debt by Major: Which college degrees are worth it?” is available here.
Jenna A. Robinson is president of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.