Lat last week, a new online tool using VLDS data was unveiled to the public. The announcement, carried in the Richmond Times Dispatch, disclosed the launch of a portal that allows users to search potential earnings by occupation or college major. Using data compiled on Virginia school students from K-12 through college and into the workplace, the system calculates average earnings at 18 months and five years after completion of a certificate or degree program. The system even allows a user to drill down to see earnings potential by academic program for individual Virginia colleges and universities. Reporter Karin Kapsidelis explains, however, "The picture provided by the portal is far from complete because it includes only those graduates working full-time in Virginia in positions that must be reported to the Virginia Employment Commission. As a result, the system doesn't count large numbers of graduates, including those working for the federal government and the military, as well as self-employed entrepreneurs or those who find jobs outside Virginia. But the numbers will help students 'understand the pathways to earnings, and that there is real value in completing a credential at any level,' said Tod Massa, SCHEV director of policy research and data warehousing. 'We see that throughout the data.'" There are plans in the works to make more detailed data available to credentialed researchers and, next year, users will be able to calculate how much debt graduates owe by degree program. Take a test drive You may be surprised.