The Environmental Protection Agency awards the Energy Star to products that save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. There are similar programs for other products and other industries that help businesses and individuals save money or be more aware of pertinent issues.
Tuition Heroes™ launched its service in 2013 with the same goals. It tracks tuition (including required fees) and calculates a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). The CAGR provides the year-over-year growth rate of tuition over a specified period of time and describes the rate at which tuition would have grown if it grew at a steady rate. Using inflation rates as a guideline, Tuition Heroes then rewards colleges and universities a Tuition Hero™ designation if their tuition CAGR is 2.5% or less.
It also recognizes those institutions that offer a fixed-rate tuition policy. A fixed-rate tuition option provides a predefined tuition rate over a period of time. The contractual agreement between the student and institution may contain specific criteria that students must meet in order to maintain the predefined tuition rate. But, as long as the institution has made the logical effort to control costs to students and allow them to foresee future expenses, the institution will be granted the Tuition Hero™ designation, even if their tuition CAGR is more than 2.5%.
Schools who’ve been recognized as a Tuition Hero can get a Tuition Hero badge that can be displayed on their websites, social media channels or other online communications.
Tuition Heroes also goes deeper by slicing and dicing the data in interesting ways. It gives other ratings for institutions (Excellent, Very Good, Good and Poor) and lets you know how many schools land in each segment. It looks at what types of institutions are granted Tuition Hero status.
Data in the Tuition Heroes directory was derived from the College Affordability and Transparency Center. The College Affordability and Transparency Center includes information for students, parents, and policymakers about college costs at America’s colleges and universities. The Center includes several lists of institutions based on the tuition and fees and net prices (the price of attendance after considering all grant and scholarship aid) charged to students. These lists meet requirements outlined in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) and will be updated annually and posted on the College Navigator website by July 1.
The lists were generated using data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is a mandatory data collection for institutions that participate in or are applicants for participation in any federal student financial aid program authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 USC 1094, Section 487(a)(17) and 34 CFR 668.14(b)(19)).
The Tuition Heroes directory contains tuition (includes required fees) for full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students at Title IV institutions. This includes institutions that charge students by academic year and institutions that charge by the program. Tuition and fees for the largest program were used for institutions that charge by the program. For institutions that charge different tuition for in-state, or out-of-state students, the minimum tuition was used.