President Barack Obama's comments on higher education in his State of the Union address on Feb. 12 included holding colleges accountable for cost, value and quality – and the need for prospective college students to compare schools to determine where they could get "the most bang for your educational buck."
The U.S. Department of Education unveiled its new College Scorecard the next day. Students and families can choose options based on their needs – including location, size, campus setting, and degree and major programs.
Each scorecard includes five key pieces of data about a college: what an undergraduate will pay after grants and scholarships are subtracted from the cost to attend; the number of students who graduate within six years at four-year institutions and three years at community colleges; the percentage of students who default on loans within three years of entering repayment; the median amount borrowed by undergraduates and employment information that is reported by the institution.
The data will be updated periodically and the Education Department plans to publish information on earnings potential in the coming year.