Rethinking Consumer Information in Higher Education

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Urban Institute

Providing better information on college quality to potential students and their families is a major focus of bipartisan higher education policy efforts. These efforts have focused on labor market outcomes, such as employment rates and average earnings, as indicators of college quality. Several state governments have published data on labor market outcomes by program of study (e.g., engineering) at different institutions within the state. This report summarizes the results of a three-year effort aimed at assessing the demand for and impact of program-level information on labor market outcomes. The authors developed an informational tool that displays academic major-level earnings and other key data points (including the average price charged, customized based on the user’s family income), piloted the tool at a set of Virginia high schools, and collected data to assess the tool’s impact on high school students’ college-going behavior.

labor market, academic major-level earnings, education, higher--costs