A couple of years ago, President Obama announced a plan to rate and rank all colleges and universities in the US. Needless to say, this plan was quite unpopular among several of the key constituencies necessary to implement such a plan, notably the presidents of many of those colleges and universities.
Instead, the Department of Education has released the College Scorecard, a website that details, among other things, earnings histories for graduates of these colleges and universities. In order to do so, the Department of Education matched data from the federal financial aid system to tax returns, enabling them to analyze financial outcomes at individual schools with a good degree of accuracy.
College Scorecard allows you to see, by college, degree and area of study, graduation rates, average incomes, percent of students paying back (versus defaulting on) their federal student loans, and whether a degree from the school is likely to lead to higher earnings than not having a degree. Like all rating systems, this one isn’t perfect– it only includes post-graduation data for students who received some form of federal aid– but it’s probably the most comprehensive data set out there to address the question, “Is this college a good investment for my student?”
College Scorecard is here.