Following what the U.S. Department of Education cited as a coding error, ED corrected a significant error in loan repayment rates on the College Scorecard and Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. Since its release in 2015, the College Scorecard has been promulgated as a tool to assist students and families choosing a college.
According to Lynn Mahaffie, a senior department of education official, “an error in the original college scorecard coding to calculate repayment rates led to the undercounting of some borrowers who had not reduced their loan balances by at least one dollar, and therefore inflated repayment rates for most institutions”.
As a result of the correction, institutions across all sectors of higher education saw a significant reduction in their 3, 5, and 7 year repayment rates. On average, three-year repayment rates fell by 20% from 61% to 41%, five-year repayment rates fell 14% from 61% to 47% and seven-year repayment rates fell 9% from 66% to 57% according to analysis by Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University.
Institutions using the 2017-2018 shopping sheet should be aware that the errors on the College Scorecard impact the data output on the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. All schools should download the revised institutional metrics data file which is programmed with the correct formula needed to update and correct the shopping sheet using the corrected college scorecard data.
The institutional metrics data file is updated on an annual basis. Data used to populate the metrics on the Shopping Sheet comes from ED’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), through the College Scorecard. Therefore, accurate institutional reporting to IPEDS and to NSLDS is necessary to ensure that correct information is populated within the Shopping Sheet metric data file and, ultimately, made available to students.