Last week, in a speech at Syracuse University, President Barack Obama unveiled an ambitious plan to control college costs by tying federal financial aid to the performance of colleges and their progress in “helping students of all kinds of backgrounds succeed.”

Key to this plan is the development of a national metric that would provide higher education consumers with consistent, standardized measures of access, affordability and student outcomes. That means keeping track of student graduation rates, loan indebtedness, and data on graduates’ earnings and employability.

Here at Florida C.A.N.!, senior researcher Troy Miller has already developed a number of tools that help interpret these federal- and state-tracked higher education stats for Florida residents.

In March, Florida C.A.N.! “remixed” the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard exclusively for Florida higher education institutions. The scorecard is an interactive website that allows students and their families to search colleges the same way they shop for books, cars, or music.  You can zoom in on colleges by location, size, and major.  In our Florida version, all the state’s colleges and universities appear on an interactive map, with a zoom feature, that reveals the sticker price of what families actually pay, how much students borrow, and what percentage of students actually graduate on time.

Speaking of which, Florida C.A.N.! has  also produced a useful online guide for figuring out the difference between the sticker price of a college’s published tuition and what a typical family will actually pay after financial aid is taken into account.  Like everything else we do here, it’s customized for Florida colleges and universities.

Last but not least, Florida C.A.N.! has alerted readers that later this year, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will unveil a web site revealing how graduates fare financially in the workplace after college. How do earnings pan out for the recent grad with a master’s degree in special education versus a person with an associate’s in dental hygiene? We soon shall know, thanks to a law passed in 2012 by the Florida Legislature. The data is expected to make its debut in late 2013 by way of, a website that  has hosted other state-level economic success data by institution.  

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