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Florida again ranked top state for higher education

For the third year in a row, U.S. News and World report named Florida’s higher education system the best in the nation.
LUIS SANTANA | Times Students await their turn to walk the stage at the University of South Florida's May 5 commencement ceremony in St. Petersburg. USF is one of 12 institutions in Florida's State University System, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation for the third year in a row Tuesday by U.S. News and World Report.
Published May 14
Updated May 14

Florida is the top state for higher education for the third year in a row, according to rankings by U.S. News and World Report.

Gov. Ron DeSantis shared the news Tuesday, calling it "no surprise."

“Our state colleges and universities have prioritized affordability and pathways for career and life and, as a result, they are transforming our state,” he said in a news release. “I look forward to celebrating continued success as we build on this positive momentum."

The ranking was part of U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best States” rankings, an overall look at states based on education and seven other key metrics: health care, the economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and corrections, and natural environment.

Florida was rated the nation’s 13th-best state based on all those areas combined, and powered by its high rankings for education, fiscal stability (second) and the economy (ninth). Florida was No. 3 in the overall category of education, with the No. 1 ranking for higher education and ranking of 27th for its K-12 schools.

For its higher education ranking, U.S. News and World report considered a handful of metrics, including the percentage of Floridians that hold a college degree, the time it takes students to complete degree programs, the cost of in-state tuition and post-graduation debt. Florida landed in the top 10 for all but one measure.

The state recently announced a 9.5 percent increase in its college graduation rate over the last five years. It also celebrated a decrease in the cost of bachelor degrees. The average student attending a state university pays less than $10,000 after financial aid, according to a news release.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Sydney Kitson called the ranking “incredibly exciting." He is the vice chairman of the state’s Board of Governors, which oversees the Florida’s university system.

The ranking is proof, he said, that Florida lawmakers’ efforts to make higher education better are working. But that doesn’t mean the work to improve is over.

“We are taking a look at every aspect of our system to continue to rise up,” Kitson said. “Yes, we’re No. 1. But we know we can be even better.”

To see the higher education rankings, click here. To see the overall state rankings, click here.

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com. Follow @mareevs.

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