For the third consecutive year, Florida has been named the No. 1 state in the nation for higher education by U.S. News & World Report.

The magazine released the rankings Tuesday based on a variety of factors, including the percentage of Floridians with college degrees, the time it takes to complete both two- and four-year programs, the cost of in-state tuition and fees, and the average debt of graduates.

“It is no surprise that U.S. News & World Report has again named Florida the top state in the nation for higher education,” says Gov. Ron DeSantis. “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.”

Five Florida institutions in the State University System – including UCF – are on the magazine’s national list of top 100 public universities.

Five Florida institutions in the State University System – including UCF – are on the magazine’s national list of top 100 public universities. Three universities in the state were ranked in the top 100 combined list of both public and private institutions.

UCF is listed on the magazine’s 2019 rankings as one of the 10 most innovative universities in the nation, with 27 programs among the top 100 in their fields nationally. UCF also ranks first among public universities in the nation for the annual number of baccalaureate degrees awarded and for the number of overall degrees.

“UCF is proud to be a major contributor to the access, affordability, student success, and excellence that distinguishes Florida as the top state in the country for higher education,” says Elizabeth A. Dooley, UCF’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Together, the universities and state colleges in Florida are showing the nation how the power of higher education can lift lives and energize the future.”

Florida’s 28 state colleges are the primary point of access to higher education in Florida, with 65 percent of the state’s high school graduates pursuing postsecondary education beginning at a Florida college, and 82 percent of freshman and sophomore minority students in public higher education attending one of Florida’s 28 colleges.

At spring commencement ceremonies last month, the university awarded its 50,000th degree to a student who came through the DirectConnect to UCF program, which guarantees admission to graduates of six state colleges. That pioneering program started in 2006.

“Florida has long been known as the Sunshine State, and it’s now time that the nation recognize Florida also as the clearly established Education State,” says Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Washington ranked second on the magazine’s list, followed by Wyoming, California and North Dakota.

Click here to see U.S. News & World Report’s higher education rankings.