A few weeks ago, the White House contacted us at Niche with a proposal.

The high costs of a college education are plaguing our students– the chances of graduating debt-free with a well-paying, full-time job are lower than all of us would like. Instead of accepting the status-quo, the White House wants to empower students to make the smartest-possible financial decisions when it comes to their education and their futures. And they wanted Niche to be a part of making that happen.

The Department of Education invited us to join a select group of educational industry leaders to provide more transparency to the college search process through Project College Choice. Each team would be entrusted with a package of not-yet-released educational outcome data, which included information on postgraduate employment, earnings, and student loan indebtedness at thousands of U.S. colleges. We were to use this data to create a way for students to navigate the costs and returns on investment of a college education.

Using the the breadth of college statistics and student reviews on value we already had in place, our team created an entirely new ranking: Best Value Colleges, with the goal of capturing the best return on investment for students of all income levels with this exclusive DOE data. The ranking is based on 11 factors including net price, student loan debt and default rates, median earnings, retention and graduation rates, and student reviews on the ROI of their degree. We built school profile pages from scratch, outlining tuition rates, salaries, and student loan debt at each school, so students can find detailed information about their top college choices.

We are thrilled to be a part of showing students where they can get the most bang for their buck.

Check out the video below to see the presentation of our new ranking and prototype to White House and Department of Education representatives!

You’ll be able to view the complete 2016 Best Value Colleges ranking along with a complete new suite of 2016 college rankings starting September 28th!