Upgraded U-CAN Site Gives Consumers New Tools for the College Search Process

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September 17, 2008               

CONTACT: Tony Pals, tony@naicu.edu
office: 202-739-0474, cell: 202-288-9333

WASHINGTON, DC, September 17—Today's launch of the upgraded U-CAN (University & College Accountability Network) college consumer information Web site -- www.ucan-network.org -- advances a growing national movement toward greater college transparency and accountability to prospective students and their families.

This is the first major upgrade to the U-CAN site, which was originally unveiled in September 2007. It will enhance a highly lauded Web site already recognized for providing free, objective, comparable data on the factors that matter most to consumers: student costs broken out by category, tuition trends, admission and graduation rates, average student aid packages, average debt at graduation, and much more.

U-CAN "2.0" offers consumers:

  • A greatly enhanced search function that increases the number of searchable variables from three to 17. Institutions can now be searched by tuition and fees, graduation rates, and average debt at graduation, among other categories.
  • A new consumer guide to resources for planning for college, searching for the best college fit, and navigating the financial aid maze.

"Many families are overwhelmed by the college search process, and don't believe they are getting the information and guidance necessary to make an informed choice," said David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, which developed and maintains U-CAN. "U-CAN is a groundbreaking, and constantly improving, resource that helps prospective students and their families make sense of the facts they need to find the best college fit."

Since NAICU first unveiled U-CAN on Sept. 26, 2007, with 600 nonprofit, private colleges and universities onboard, the number of participating institutions has grown by 21 percent. The roster of private colleges and universities signed up to participate has grown to 728 institutions. The association has 953 member schools, which enroll 85 percent of all students attending private colleges and universities in America.

U-CAN's new features are the result of consumer focus groups conversations conducted across the nation in spring 2008, and feedback collected from site users over the past year. The findings show that consumers value the type of transparency, guidance, and user-friendly access to information that U-CAN provides--and want even more. The focus groups findings are summarized in the NAICU report Demystifying College Costs: What Consumers Want to Know, which is available on the NAICU Web site.

"There is a hunger among consumers, policymakers, and the public for more college transparency," Warren said. "What we hear from families is clear: U-CAN is transparency that matters to the marketplace."

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NAICU serves as the unified national voice of independent higher education. With more than 1,000 member institutions and associations nationwide, NAICU reflects the diversity of private, nonprofit higher education in the United States. They include traditional liberal arts colleges, major research universities, church- and faith-related institutions, historically black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, single-sex colleges, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, art, and other professions.