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How Colleges and Universities are Ranked in the U.S.

Colleges are ranked based on Competitiveness, Costs, Availability of Financial Aid, Graduation Rates, Student indebtedness and Academic support to students.

College rankings are very important when choosing a college. This is important because it helps you evaluate what you are getting from the college and how you will be able to pay for it. Colleges are ranked every year and there are specific criteria used to rank colleges in the United States.

Cost of College and Financial Aid available

Colleges with the lowest Total Cost (tuition, fees, accommodation and books), for the students are given most points in the rankings.

There are colleges with higher costs but if they offset these cost by giving students more need-based Aid(grants and not loans). These colleges are also ranked high because their effective cost to the students are lower.

There are other colleges that offer Non Need-based financial-aid that helps bring down the costs too.

Students Indebtedness.

Student indebtedness rise as college costs rise because most students have to get loans to cover for college costs they cannot pay on their own. Recent research shows that the average college students has students loans of over $30,000 before they graduate.

Colleges that work to reduce student debt are also ranked high because we don't want students burdened with loans.

College competitiveness.

This category of competitiveness comprises two things. First is the Admission Rates (the percentage of applicants offered admission) and Yield (The percentage of students who enroll out of those admitted).

Admission rates demonstrates how selective the school is. If the admission rates are lower, that means the college is highly selective and will choose from higher quality pool of applicants. Therefore schools with lower admission Rates are rated higher because they show the high academic standards of the college.

The Yield demonstrates the colleges ability to compete with other colleges for accepted candidates. If the yield is high, that means the college is of higher quality because it can get most of its accepted candidates.

The test scores (SAT or ACT) of incoming students are also considered when ranking the colleges because higher test scores show the school is admitting students of higher intellectual standard.

Graduation Rates.

The biggest scores are given to colleges with the highest four year graduation rates because it demonstrates that the colleges help their students get their degrees on time and within budget.

Considering some students are late bloomers, points are also given to colleges whose students get their degrees in five years as opposed to four years.

Academic Support.

The Student per faculty ratios are a measure of whether the college has enough personnel to support the needs of their students. This is a measure of academic support to the students.

Freshman retention rates are also used as a measure of academic support. This is the measure of how many freshmen returned for their sophomore year to that school and is an indication of how successful that college was at keeping them engaged with their student work.

Therefore when choosing a college, you should consider all these factors and they will give you an indication the support you will receive from the college to help you graduate.