University of Florida and Florida State University each vaulted five slots in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, with UF earning the No. 9 spot and FSU landing at No. 33. The jumps in the rankings mark significant achievements for both institutions, with UF meeting its long-standing goal of breaking into the prestigious list of Top 10 public universities and FSU making remarkable progress toward its goal of landing in the Top 25. University of South Florida, University of Central Florida and Florida International University also moved up in the rankings, landing at No. 68, No. 90, and No. 122, respectively.
The rankings appear in the “Best Colleges 2018” guidebook by U.S. News & World Report and are based on widely accepted indicators of excellence, including undergraduate academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and alumni giving.
“Over the past several years, the State University System has made a real push to align its degrees with the state workforce, increase its prominence in research, and improve the quality of our universities,” said Tom Kuntz, chair of the Board of Governors. “After U.S. News & World Report recently named Florida the top state for higher education in the country, it’s good to also see our individual institutions recognized.”
Florida has aggressively sought to improve the quality of its universities, with the Governor and Legislature implementing an initiative known as “Preeminence,” which strengthens the national reputation of Florida’s universities by providing resources for world-class faculty, improved student-faculty ratios, and more. Additionally, the Board of Governors incentivizes improvement through its nationally recognized performance funding model, which directs money to the universities based on student outcomes. In the past five years, the System’s graduation rate improved by 5.3 percent, the retention rate improved by 3.4 percent, and the number of students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) increased by 31 percent.
“The Board of Governors, through performance funding and other initiatives, has helped define what it means to be a Florida university,” said Marshall Criser III, State University System chancellor. “Above all, it means a focus on outcomes and an absolute commitment to student success.”
Even while enhancing its national reputation, Florida has maintained its status as one of the most affordable states in the country to achieve an education, with the average cost of earning a bachelor’s degree less than $15,000 after financial aid is included. Furthermore, University Work Plans, in which institutions lay out their future financial goals, indicate that universities are expected to decrease their prices further in the coming years, cutting the student cost per degree from $14,820 to 14,090 by the 2019-2020 school year.