In an address on Saturday President Obama unveiled a new College Scorecard that ranks colleges and universities across the country, aiming to empower students in their college search.

The website allows students to look up the cost, graduation and retention rates, average debt, as well as a student’s average salary after graduation for nearly 7,000 schools across the country. It also acts as a comparison tool based on search terms including size, location, and degree programs available.

Beginning in 2013, Obama sought to create a college rating system to help students decide which schools deliver “the biggest bang for your buck.” He hoped this would hold schools accountable to keep tuition affordable and invest in their students. After receiving some push-back from higher education professionals, the focus shifted from ranking colleges to providing comprehensive data to students and their families.

When announcing the new website, the President said, “As college costs and student debt keep rising, the choices that Americans make when searching for and selecting a college have never been more important.  That’s why everyone should be able to find clear, reliable, open data on college affordability and value – like whether they’re likely to graduate, find good jobs, and pay off their loans.”

With the influx of data available to the public, the gender gap in earning becomes apparent for individual schools. An analysis by the New York Times shows the stark differences in average earning between male and female graduates from some of the top schools in the country. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), shows a $58,100 difference of salary ten years after graduation for male and female students. Following close behind are Stanford University, Harvard University, and the University of Pennsylvania. As the NYT wrote, “Women who enrolled at Harvard are making as much as men who enrolled at Tufts.”

According to the White House, the Scorecard will be updated based on feedback from students, parents, counselors, and colleges.

Media Resources: The White House 9/12/15; Washington Post 8/23/13; New York Times 9/12/15; 9/13/15;

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