White House offers University statistics

President Barack Obama’s administration launched a website earlier this month for college students to compare universities and their prices.

College Scorecard, an extension of whitehouse.gov, lets students search for specific schools and see the costs, graduation rates, loan default rates and median borrowing of various schools.

Students can also narrow college choice by region, degree, campus setting and several other categories.

When Murray State is searched, the information given by College Scorecard says the cost to attend the University is low compared to other schools. It also says the graduation rate is 52.4 percent, a medium rate in relation to other universities.

Jeremiah Johnson, Student Government Association president, said if the website is publicized more, he believes it has the ability to reach many potential students.

“I think (College Scorecard) puts Murray State on more of a national stage,” Johnson said. “It will allow us to reach out to more potential students, even internationally.”

The website was created by the Obama administration as part of a continuous plan for increasing higher education. Although the president only briefly discussed college education in his State of the Union address earlier this month, he released a plan outlining all of the changes he plans to make.

Many of these changes will be in the economic aspect of education, through Pell grants and student loans. Obama said he plans to make college education cheaper to students and families in order to secure America’s future.

Lori Mitchum, director of financial aid, said 3,817 students have been awarded the Pell grant this year at Murray State. Mitchum said there will be an $85 increase for 2013-14 and more students should be eligible for the grant at that time.

Currently, Obama is planning to increase Pell grants again, even for the 2013-14 school year.

“The increase will help reduce what students owe for tuition, room and board,” Mitchum said.

While the Obama administration admitted the need for more government college funding, they also said it is up to public institutions to keep their tuition low.

On College Scorecard for Murray State, the cost statistics show the net price increased 27.4 percent between 2007-09. Johnson said tuition has increased over the last few years because the state is funding less money to higher education and the University has to cover the individual gaps.

Johnson said keeping tuition low while increasing academic excellence is the goal of the Board of Regents.

In June, the board will meet to discuss budget changes, which have a direct effect on tuition prices.

Johnson said he strongly believes the Board of Regents will strive to keep tuition as low as possible, without hurting the academic integrity of the institution.

“It opens the door for non–traditional students, as well as any other students, so they can receive a college education,” Johnson said.

Johnson and Mitchum agreed the changes should benefit students in the long run, especially those dealing with an increase in grants and student loans.

Mitchum said there are still many students in need of financial aid, even those already using a Pell grant.

Johnson said although federal government should allow education to develop on its own, funding for public institutions should continue to increase.

Obama’s goal is for the U.S. to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Story by Lexy Gross, Assistant News Editor.