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White House and Census Set to Collide Over College Education Data

Two government initiatives seeking to understand the value of a college education are about to butt heads. The White House spelled out a plan Friday to rank the nation’s 5,000 colleges and universities, reasoning that students need more information before committing to the hefty expense of higher education. At the same time, and with much less fanfare, the U.S. Census Bureau has proposed ending its efforts to collect data on college majors.

“It feels like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” said Anthony Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, who uses the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data for research on the value of different college degrees.