02/20/2013 04:24 pm ET Updated Apr 22, 2013

Obama's College Scorecard: 'Get the Most Bang for Your Educational Buck'

The White House and the U.S. Department of Education have released the College Scorecard, a new interactive tool to help students and families access necessary information to make smart decisions about where to attend college.

"My Administration will release a new College Scorecard that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck," President Obama said.

Why is it important?
Making a list of colleges is one of the indicators for successfully enrolling in a university after high school. By junior year of high school, students will need to have a list of ten schools to apply to. The New Futuro College Plan suggests students to create a list including two dream schools (schools you would love to go to but may be a little hard to get accepted to), five match schools (schools that you are a good match for your credentials and are likely to accept you), and three safety schools (schools that are unlikely not to accept you, so if you don't get accepted anywhere else, you still have these as a "safety net").

When looking at colleges the most important things to keep in mind are:

  • Career areas you might be interested in
  • Types of colleges you want to go to (4-year college, community college, online, trade school)
  • Location and how close or far from home you want to be
  • Majors, programs or certifications offered
  • Size of the student body
  • Activities and social groups you might be interested in (sports, academic support, cultural activities)
  • Test scores required
  • Costs and what kind of financial aid/scholarships they offer

The newly released College Scorecard incorporates all of these factors and is an excellent resource for families to find more information on colleges. The most important being that allows families assess and compare the cost and value of attending individual schools. You can search for schools based on factors such as career areas/majors, location, size, and more or just enter a specific university or college name to see that school's scorecard.

The online scorecard will help prospective students assess the cost and value of attending individual colleges and universities. Each scorecard includes five key pieces of information about a college: Costs, Graduation Rate, Loan Default Rate, Median Borrowing, and Employment.

So when you look up a school you can see how much it typically costs per year to attend, which percentage of students graduate, and how much most students borrow to pay for school. The searchable database also lets students compare the rates at which graduates default on their student loans against.