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

March 10, 2017

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).


Aug. U.S. homebuilder optimism hits 2005 levels

August 18, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) – Aug. 17, 2015 – U.S. homebuilders grew slightly more optimistic about the housing market in August, putting their confidence at levels last seen a decade ago during the debt-fueled housing boom.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday rose this month to 61, the highest level since November 2005. The reading was 60 in both June and July. Any reading above 50 indicates more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

“The fact the builder confidence has been in the low 60s for three straight months shows that single-family housing is making slow but steady progress,” said Tom Woods, a Missouri-based builder and chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

Through the first half of 2015, the government reported that new-home purchases shot up 21.2 percent to 274,000.

This comes as employers have added 2.9 million workers over the past year and the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.3 percent from 6.2 percent. The hiring has infused the economy with new paychecks that have supported the spending on housing and autos, among other expenses.

And average mortgage rates remain under 4 percent, putting them about two percentage points below this historical average.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.94 percent last week.

AP Logo Copyright © 2015 The Associated Press, Josh Boak. All rights reserved. This material may not be


Why Isn’t the Condo Market Rebounding?

July 24, 2015

NEW YORK – July 23, 2015 – While construction of single-family homes and multifamily rentals is on the rebound, condo construction sunk to new lows. Any rebound in the condo construction market has been delayed by stringent rules on condo mortgages that took effect post-housing crisis, and stronger demand among young people for rentals.

Condo construction in the first quarter comprised only 5.5 percent of all construction of multifamily housing – the lowest ratio since the Commerce Department began tracking the data in 1974. Historically, condo construction falls at a 24 percent average.

Condos traditionally offer higher returns for investors than apartments.

“Many developers would rather be building condominiums,” says Peter Bazeli, senior vice president at New York-based real estate consulting firm Weitzman Group. “With condos, you’re paying down debt with every closing and then putting money in your pocket right away.”

But many factors hamper the condo market’s recovery. For one, economists say young adults have been flocking to rentals instead, and condos typically cater to entry-level buyers. Also, construction loans limit the supply of condos built. Developers say they can get a construction loan for about 75 percent of the cost of building an apartment complex, but only about 50 percent for a condo complex because lenders deem it a higher risk.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) tightened its lending standards from 2008 to 2012, which has made condo funding even tougher, too. In order for the FHA to insure mortgages in a condo complex, at least half the units must be owner-occupied, and no more than half can be FHA-insured. For condo projects under development, at least 30 percent of units must be under contract for sale before the FHA will start backing mortgages.

Economists say those factors have kept the condo market sluggish and still far from recovery. The median condo resale price in May was $216,400, about $15,400 less than its pre-crisis peak in June 2005. On the other hand, the median resale price for single-family homes in May was $230,300 – only $600 less than its pre-crisis peak in July 2006.

But some developers see glimmers of a condo rebound forming.

“Rising apartment rents provide renters more reason to buy instead of renting,” the Journal reports. “Job growth is improving for young would-be buyers. And real estate lobbyists say they are making inroads in Washington to build support for easing the FHA restrictions on condo mortgages.”

Source: “Condos Left Behind in Housing Rebound,” The Wall Street Journal (July 21, 2015)

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IMAGINE The Possibilities ~ 4 New Trains Proposed For Orlando!

February 18, 2013

Metro Orlando, which pursued trains unsuccessfully for decades, could be virtually overrun by them in a few years.

Four systems are in various stages of planning:

  • The SunRail commuter train is under construction.
  • All Aboard Florida would link Orlando International Airport with South Florida and have promised to be running in 2015.
  • The owner of American Maglev of Georgia has said he could build an elevated system between the airport and the Orange County Convention Center no later than 2015.
  • The fourth proposal, the Orange Blossom Express would run between Lake County and downtown Orlando.

Why all the interest?  Metro Orlando now has more than 2.2 million residents.

Possible advantages IF all the trains are built, they would create thousands of construction jobs, as well as hundreds of full-time jobs.  Supporters say the trains also would trigger new development.

SunRail intends of get the bulk of its riders from Interstate 4, which is supposed to undergo a massive rebuild starting late next year or early 2015.

Train supporters say the systems would take cars off not just I-4 but other roads too, freeing lanes for drivers and reducing air pollution because fewer engines would be burning oil.

The more mass transportation you have, the more that will help to improve travel on the road and lessen congestion!

Would YOU use a train in your daily commute?

 

 

REF: Orlando Sentinel/Dan Tracy 2/18/13