U.S. News & World Report has once again named Florida the top state in the country for higher education. Florida’s higher education system has held the top ranking since the inception of the rankings in 2017. This achievement can be credited to the collective commitment of elected leaders, the Board of Governors, and the state universities to student success and affordability.
“Florida’s success would not be possible without the exceptional leadership at our 12 public universities, Gov. (Ron) DeSantis’ commitment to excellence in higher education and the unwavering support of our legislative leaders. I am truly grateful for their investment and continued support,” says Brian Lamb, chair of the Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System. “Florida has long been a national leader in higher education, and retaining this No. 1 ranking proves the Florida way is working. By prioritizing student success, with an emphasis on providing all students a high-quality, low-cost education, Florida’s universities are leaning in to produce top-tier talent to meet workforce needs, increase research capabilities, and retain the best and brightest faculty whose excellence and expertise provide the platform from which we create the future.”
Metrics considered by U.S. News & World Report include the time it takes students to complete two- and four-year college programs, the cost of in-state tuition and fees, and the debt burden that college graduates carry. Florida improved on two of the five metrics in the recent rankings, including four-year graduation rate and educational attainment. Florida remained No. 1 for the lowest tuition and fees.
The State University System recently announced a 12% five-year increase in graduation rates and a 49% year-over-year drop in the cost-to-the-student for a bachelor’s degree. Due to support from elected leaders and initiatives that drive down costs, the average State University System student pays less than $3,400 for a bachelor’s degree once financial aid is included. Additionally, 75% of resident undergrads had no loans during the 2020-21 academic year, up from 69% the previous year.
“This recognition affirms the incredible collaboration among our universities, our System, and Gov. DeSantis and our State Legislature to prioritize Florida’s students,” says Ray Rodrigues, chancellor of the State University System of Florida. “Accountability is key, and the state’s investments in performance-based funding have given our system the tools necessary for our students to achieve a higher quality of education, graduate faster, with little to no debt.”
Accountability is critical to the system’s continuing rise in productivity and reputation, and the state’s investments in performance-based funding have provided the tools necessary for this ranking. In the fall of 2020, the Board of Governors added a dashboard on the homepage that provides a transparent way for all interested parties to monitor the system’s performance on these prioritized metrics.