Texas's cost-benefit guide to choosing a college

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If you're a high school student in Texas and dream of a career in the arts, you might want to know that fine-arts and studio-arts graduates at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls make, on average, about $10,000 more per year than alumni who majored in the same subjects at Sul Ross State University in Alpine—and that the disparity lasts for 10 years after graduation. Yet the total cost of a bachelor's degree is the same at both schools, around $42,000. The average time to complete the degree is also about the same, a little more than five years.

A prospective college student can now learn all this and more from a neatly packaged Web report—which can be customized to reflect one's location, household income, and SAT scores—generated from a rich trove of data on tuition and fees at Texas's public universities, and on the earnings of those school's graduates. The searchable website MyFutureTx.com launched in early February, but it is only the most recent step in the state's long commitment to openness about the economic trade-offs inherent in choosing a college.

Texas has the most sophisticated and publicly available higher-education data set in the country, and its officials are aggressive about making sure that state residents can use that information to make better decisions about where to go to college and what to study. MyFutureTx.com is the newest of several state-sanctioned websites that offer detailed descriptions of graduates' earnings, job opportunities across majors, and comparisons of colleges' costs.

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