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White House

The federal government recently released a comprehensive guide to colleges and universities in the United States—but Hillsdale College is conspicuously absent.

Last week, the White House announced the new database of graduate employment and student loan statistics from every institution of higher education in the country. The “College Scorecard” is designed to help prospective students “identify which schools provide the biggest bang for your buck.”

President Barack Obama said, “Americans will now have access to reliable data on every institution of higher education. You’ll be able to see how much each school’s graduates earn, how much debt they graduate with, and what percentage of a school’s students can pay back their loans—which will help all of us see which schools do the best job of preparing America for success.”

But Hillsdale College, ranked 17th in Kiplinger’s recent list of Best Value Liberal Arts Colleges, is not listed in the database, which is a project of the U.S. Department of Education in cooperation with the White House.

The Department of Education defended its omission of Hillsdale College, saying it doesn’t confer enough four-year degrees.

“Hillsdale does offer bachelor’s degrees,” Denise Horn, assistant press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, told the Collegian. “However, because the plurality of degrees it awards are certificates, not two-year or four-year degrees, it was not included on the Scorecard at launch.”

Grove City College, another school known for refusing to take federal funding, was also excluded from the list.

There is one “Hillsdale” college in the database: Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College, located in Moore, Oklahoma, with 195 undergraduate students.

According to the graduation requirements listed by the college registrar, Hillsdale offers two baccalaureate degrees, “each based on the completion of four years of study in the liberal arts.”

The Department of Education doesn’t agree that those specifications make Hillsdale a four-year institution.

“Hillsdale is a predominantly certificate degree granting institution,” Horn explained. “At launch, we focused our attention on predominantly two- and four-year degree programs. We will be exploring ways moving forward to account for shorter degree programs and to incorporate them onto the website.”

Though Hillsdale does not accept federal funding, the college does submit some data to be included in analyses of accredited ranking companies such as U.S. News and World Report, which use data from the federal government to generate rankings.

“At least under the current administration,” said College President Larry Arnn, “they refuse to receive it unless we include data about race of students and other things that we have never collected, that is, we have not collected this data for more than 170 years.”

While information covering the ethnicity of the student body is one of the data sets listed in the “scorecard,” there are many schools with certain sets of data listed as “unavailable.”

“We may be the first institution of any kind anywhere to commit in its charter to admit students ‘without regard to race, sex, or national origin,’” Arnn said. “Never mind that. The federal government demands that we count our students by the color of their skin.”

The White House declined to comment.

“Hillsdale College, 1844. United States Department of Education, 1979,” Arnn added. “The latter has never been very good at history or even current affairs.”

  • Bill Nicholson

    This is a well-written and researched article. Hillsdale students should also know that the “College Scorecard” graciously provided by our government makes no mention whatsoever of accreditation. The entire site lacks depth, but that’s another issue. There’s no search filter for accreditation nor is it discussed on the site. Hillsdale is accredited by the HLC (Higher Learning Commission), along with Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan. And Northwestern and Ohio State. HLC accreditation is a rigorous process: I speak from direct experience.

    Many schools on the “College Scorecard” hold accreditation from lesser organizations. In fact some schools on the ‘”College Scoreboard” award college credits that will not transfer to other schools. Transfer-ability of credits is a serious issue that should not be overlooked by parents and prospective students.

    Regarding certificates: many colleges offer certificates, usually a 1-year commitment, whereas an Associate’s Degree is 2 years and a Bachelor’s Degree 4 years. A certificate is an excellent way to serve the community by offering educational opportunities closely focused on business functions. In other words, people earn certificates to advance in their jobs or better themselves. The federal government’s decision to limit their “College Scorecard” in such an arbitrary manner is capricious. A more useful metric might be the number of AS and BS degrees granted vs certificates. I don’t know the numbers, but I speculate that Hillsdale includes certificates in the course catalog that are rarely granted.

    In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic.

  • Russell Poulin

    Good article. It’s not how many four-year degrees that are offered. For the Department of Ed to be a “predominantly four-year institution means that you must have granted more four-year degrees than certificates in the year that the Department used for its statistical analysis. This definition is a disservice to Hillsdale and many other colleges.See my original blog post: https://wcetblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/a-review-of-the-department-of-educations-new-college-scorecard-website/
    Here’s an analysis of my colleague, Phil Hill: http://mfeldstein.com/college-scorecard-problem-gets-worse-one-in-three-associates-degree-institutions-are-not-included/
    Hillsdale may wish to join with others in respectfully requesting that this situation be remedied.
    Russ Poulin
    WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies

  • CruiseChristopher

    Considering the content of the list, why would Hillsdale even want to be on it? In fact, shouldn’t Hillsdale be happy to be excluded?