Report: Florida No. 1 Higher Education System In US

For the third year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Florida’s higher education system No. 1 in the U.S.

“It is no surprise that U.S. News & World Report has again named Florida the top state in the nation for higher education,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement.  “Our state colleges and universities have prioritized affordability and pathways for career and life and, as a result, they are transforming our state. I look forward to celebrating continued success as we build on this positive momentum.”

U.S. News & World Report measured the higher education systems on the following criteria:

  • 2-Year College Graduation Rate

  • 4-Year College Graduation Rate

  • Low Debt at Graduation

  • Educational Attainment

  • Tuition and Fees

Florida ranked No. 2 in 2-year college graduation rate and tuition and fees; No. 8 in 4-year college graduation rate and low debt at graduation; and No. 27 in educational attainment.

“One of the things that we are very proud of in Florida is we are really trying to keep tuition low and down,” Sydney Kitson, vice chair of the Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System, told The Independent Florida Alligator. “Graduating students in four years is very, very important. They’re getting into the workplace quicker, which is great for the economy.”

On average, Kiston said, students end up paying less than $10,000 for a degree with the help of funding from Pell Grants and Bright Futures.

“It’s making certain that the degrees that students are earning translate into the workplace, so when they graduate, they can hit the ground running and be successful early on in their careers,” Kitson said.

The Board of Governors credits the approval of its performance-based funding model for the 9.5 percent spike in four-year graduation rates over the past five years.

“Our aim is simple: We want our students to graduate in a timely manner, with minimal debt, and with the skills to help them put their talents and passions to good use in the workforce,” said Marshall Criser, State University System chancellor. “This proves that with the right incentives and the right support, there really is no limit to the positive change we can accomplish for our students.”

In additional to ranking No. 1 overall, the Sunshine State had three schools in U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 national universities. The University of Florida was tied for No. 35; the University of Miami was tied for No. 53; and Florida State University was tied for No. 70.

Kitson has high hopes for the rest of the higher education institutions across the state.

“They all are improving,” he said. “They are all doing a fantastic job focusing on our students and student success.”

As for education as a whole, Florida was No. 3 in the country – dragged down by their No. 27 rank in Pre-K-12.

U.S. News & World Report’s criteria for measuring Pre-K-12 success was as follows:

  • College Readiness

  • High School Graduation Rate

  • National Assessment of Educational Progress Math Scores

  • National Assessment of Educational Progress Reading Scores

  • Preschool Enrollment

Florida ranked No. 15 in College Readiness; No. 18 in NAEP Reading Scores; No. 19 in Preschool Enrollment; No. 31 in NAEP Math Scores; and No. 36 in High School Graduation Rate.

“K-12 is sort of a different animal,” Kitson said. “They also need to have not just education, but the proper guidance. Not everyone should be going to university.”