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Lt. Gov. Simon pushing bill that would help compare college costs 


Bloomington Pantagraph
December 1, 2012
By Kurt Erickson

SPRINGFIELD — High school seniors and their parents could get a new tool to help them determine which Illinois college or university best fits their needs.

Under a proposal being considered by the Illinois General Assembly, state higher education officials would compile reports that would include tuition costs, loan default rates, degree completion rates, admission standards and job placement information.

While much of that information already is available through college web sites and through state databases, the new reports would put it all in one place for easier viewing, say officials.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who is backing the idea, said it’s often easier to compare the ingredients and nutritional information on two cans of soda than it is to compare universities and colleges.

“This takes advantage of information that’s already being collected for some other purpose and just packaging it in a way that the students can compare one institution to another,” said Simon.

The plan would require the reports to be posted not only on the websites of the state’s community colleges and public four-year institutions, but also on the home pages of private and for-profit colleges and universities.
David Tretter, executive director of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, agreed that much of the information is available on many websites. But he also thinks the setup could help make it easier to compare schools — as long as people take into consideration the vast difference between, for example, Northwestern University and a community college.

Legislation that would require the so-called “College Choice Reports” is currently awaiting action in the House.
Simon, who has visited all of the state’s community colleges and all but one state university since taking office nearly two years ago, expects the proposal to draw wide support.

“I haven’t heard any objection to it. There’s a general sense of agreement that this would be a useful thing for students and their parents,” she said.
The legislation is House Bill 5248.