The University & College Accountability Network (U-CAN) is designed to offer prospective students and their families concise, Web-based consumer-friendly information about the nation’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities in a common format. It was developed and is maintained by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).
Praised by admissions counselors, students, policymakers, and consumer groups, U-CAN consists of hundreds of institutional profiles featuring comparable data and links to qualitative campus information. The profiles are displayed in a common template developed by NAICU and based on consumer feedback.
Through focus groups, students and parents told us the information they most need to make an informed college choice. Their comments shaped the format and content of the consumer information template, which includes comparable institutional data, and provides many targeted links to the institution’s Web site for more detailed information on specific aspects of the institution. U-CAN is totally free – both to users and to the colleges and universities that choose to participate.
U-CAN profiles also include information identified by policymakers as important for accountability. Congress and the U.S. Department of Education have called for more consumer information to help the public evaluate and choose colleges – a goal that NAICU strongly supports.
The in-depth information included in the institutional profiles includes admissions, enrollment, academics, student demographics, graduation rates, most common fields of study, transfer of credit policy, accreditation, faculty information, class size, tuition and fee trends, price of attendance, financial aid, campus housing, student life, and campus safety.
Through U-CAN, consumers have easy access to information on net tuition, average loan debt at graduation, and undergraduate class-size for hundreds of colleges. This information is generally difficult for consumers to find and comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s IPEDS survey and the Common Data Set.
Consumers also are able to search institutions by a wide array of variables, including tuition, debt at graduation, number of students, graduation rate, city, state, distance from home, affiliation, and more. And U-CAN’s “Planning to Go” page offers links to key resources on how to prepare for college, find the best fit, and navigate the admissions and financial aid processes.
NAICU created and manages U-CAN in close consultation with the National Association of Independent College and University State Executives, member presidents, and a number of other associations representing independent institutions. Participation by NAICU member institutions is voluntary, and private colleges do not have to be members of NAICU in order to participate.
U-CAN is one of many consumer information tools available to prospective students and their parents. More information resources mean better educated consumers and, ultimately, more successful college students.