The best states–and the worst ones–for higher education, according to US News

Florida takes the top spot

U.S. News & World Report recently partnered with McKinsey & Company to rank the 50 states by how well they serve their citizens in seven categories, including higher education.

U.S. News assigned each state a higher education score based on metrics that included:

  • Share of citizens in the state who hold degrees;
  • Percent of students who graduate on time;
  • Average cost of tuition and fees; and
  • Average student loan debt per graduate.

The top 10 states for higher education, according to U.S. News, are:

  1. Florida;
  2. Utah;
  3. California;
  4. Wyoming;
  5. Washington;
  6. North Dakota;
  7. South Dakota;
  8. Colorado;
  9. Nebraska; and
  10. Virginia.

The 10 states at the bottom of U.S. News‘ list are:

  1. Kentucky;
  2. Arkansas;
  3. Ohio;
  4. South Carolina;
  5. Michigan;
  6. Rhode Island;
  7. Indiana;
  8. West Virginia;
  9. Alabama; and
  10. Pennsylvania.

In a related survey, respondents chose education as the No. 2 factor that mattered most to them about their state.

The higher education rankings are part of U.S. News‘ broader ranking of all 50 states according to a wide variety of metrics grouped into seven categories. Each state’s score on higher education factored into its score in a broader education category and ultimately into an overall ranking.

Assistant Managing Editor Mark Silva explains that the publication undertook the ranking to better understand and compare state performance at a time when “many balances of power [are shifting] from Washington, D.C., to the states.”

It may not be surprising to see California ranked near the top, as the New York Times praised the University of California in 2015 for contributing to economic mobility in the state (Silva, U.S. News & World Report, 2/28; Cook, U.S. News & World Report, 2/28; U.S. News & World Report rankings, accessed 3/2).

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