Keeping to his State of the Union promise to provide accountability and transparency, and to help families determine “where you can get the most bang for your educational buck,” President Obama has unveiled the so-called "College Scorecard."

The College Scorecard creates a new universal system to rank the educational value of the nation’s colleges and universities, and allows parents and students to view a college’s cost, graduation rate, loan default rate, median borrowing, and employment. The site also serves as a search engine, permitting students to find colleges based on individual needs, such as location, campus setting, and degree and major programs.

In a statement released by the Department of Education, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the scorecard was an empowering tool for families. “Too often, students and their families don’t have the right tools to help them sort through the information they need to decide which college or university is right for them. The search can be overwhelming, and the information from different colleges can be hard to compare."

Hard to compare, indeed! Apples to orangutans, in most instances, with even the highly touted college net cost calculators often leaving site visitors confused and bewildered.

Now, with the College Scorecard, one can simply plug in the name of a college or university (or find one by means of searching by location, size, major, campus setting and a host of other criteria).

A perfect tool in determining which college is best for you? Of course not. In many ways, the College Scorecard is still a work in progress. By all measures, however, given the scant, scarce and often misleading information that was out there before the advent of the College Scorecard, suffice it to say that the White House and the U.S. Department of Education are off to a great start!

Along with introducing the College Scorecard, Obama also urged Congress to change the Higher Education Act “so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.” The Higher Education Act is set to expire at the end of this year.

So far, post State of the Union 2013, its President Obama 1, Congress 0. [Not that we're keeping score, mind you! :-)]

As you begin your college search, looking to compare and contrast, be sure to check out College Scorecard.

Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

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