Finding the right college is complicated enough for well-prepared students from middle- or upper-class families with a history of college education. If you're a low-income student, the first in your family to attempt college, and have less than stellar grades from a solid, but not storied, public high school, the thousands of colleges and universities out there may be little more than a blur. How will you choose a school that provides the academic support you need, offers a solid (and perhaps challenging) education with good career prospects, and helps you graduate without a mountain of debt?
These are the students who can benefit the most from what President Obama's college ratings proposal promises-a clear view of which institutions are the best value, with a commitment to direct more financial aid to them. With tuition too high and graduation rates too low at many institutions, many Americans want and need to know, in the simplest terms, where to find the best value for their money.