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USF, New College and other Florida universities see changes in US News college rankings

Green letters reading "USF" and "University of South Florida" on a brick wall. Palm trees and vegetation surround the frame.
Carl Lisciandrello
WUSF Public Media
A sign on the University of South Florida's Tampa campus.

The changes come after lawmakers, led by Gov. Ron DeSantis, targeted the state university system during the recent legislative session.

The U.S. News and World Report rankings of the best colleges is out, and Florida's public universities saw some movement.

The University of South Florida fell three spots to 45th in public universities, but climbed eight spots to 89th overall among national universities, both public and private.

The overall ranking is the highest in USF’s history, according to a press release from President Rhea Law.

“Our standing in the rankings and our recent invitation to join the Association of American Universities reaffirm that USF provides a significant return on investment for our students, the Tampa Bay region and our state. We are focused on sustaining this positive momentum as we continue our pursuit of excellence,” Law said in the release.

Law said during a university-wide town hall last week that USF has its sights set on becoming a top 25 U.S. public university.

USF also ranked first in Florida and 57th nationally in best value schools, which measures a school’s academic quality and “the 2022-2023 net cost of attendance for an out-of-state student who received the average level of need-based financial aid.”

Among other Florida institutions, the University of Florida dropped in the public university rankings from fifth to sixth. But it climbed one spot to 28th in the overall rankings.

Florida State University dropped from 19th among public universities to 23rd, but rose from 55th to 53rd overall.

The University of Central Florida was unchanged among public universities at 64th and up from 137th to 124th overall.

New College of Florida dropped 24 spots among all national liberal arts colleges to 100th.

Florida Polytechnic University was again the top public regional college in the South and number two overall, while the private Rollins College was the top regional university in the South.

What’s new this year

U.S. News changed its methodology this year to emphasize social mobility, according to the website. The rankings added factors like first-generation graduation rates and graduation rate performance, and the proportion of college graduates earning more than a high school graduate.

Other factors – like the proportion of graduates who borrowed federal loans, high school class standing, alumni giving rate, terminal degree faculty and class size – were removed. The definition of social mobility was also changed to include first-generation and Pell-recipient graduation rates.

With this new methodology, USF placed first in Florida and 16th nationally in the social mobility rankings. UF and FSU both landed in 47th place.

The changes also come after lawmakers, led by Gov. Ron DeSantis, targeted the state university system during the legislative session. This included a conservative overhaul at New College of Florida, which is currently experiencing housing and curriculum changes in the new academic year.

READ MORE: New College students and teachers return with plenty of changes

To see more of USF’s rankings this year, click here. To see more national rankings, click here.

As WUSF’s digital news producer, I strive to serve others by sharing stories on our online platforms.
Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.