USF Named "Best Value" University

The university’s ranking by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance soars 30 places from 2011 to 2012.


By Kevin Burke

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2013) — The University of South Florida ranks among the nation’s top 100 best values in public higher education for 2012-13, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the country’s oldest personal finance magazine.


USF claimed the 57th spot on the latest Kiplinger’s list, which ranks four-year colleges and universities that combine outstanding education with economic value.


Admission rate, incoming freshman test scores, freshman-to-sophomore retention, student-faculty ratio, and four- and six-year graduation rates are among the factors that Kiplinger’s uses to assess each school’s quality. Cost criteria, meanwhile, include tuition, fees, room and board, financial aid, and average debt at graduation.


The overall rankings are based on various considerations as they affect in-state students, though each college or university also receives a secondary “out-of-state” score (with USF ranking 56th in that category in 2012-13).


“We applaud this year’s top 100 schools for their efforts to maintain academic standards while meeting the financial needs of their students,” said Janet Bodnar, editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. The annual public school rankings appear in Kiplinger’s February 2013 issue, on newsstands Jan. 1 and available online at


Topping this year’s list, as it has since the rankings’ inception in 1998, is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. USF, however, leaped 30 places from its No. 87 position in the publication’s 2011-12 survey, when Kiplinger’s editors praised the university for providing “a stellar education at an affordable price.”


The online version of the Best Values list permits users to reorder the rankings to account for several variables, such as total cost after the awarding of need-based financial aid.  On that basis, USF ranks 16th among the top 100 for in-state students and seventh for students from out of state, the latter the highest showing of any Florida school on the list.


In the past three years, the total dollar amount of institutional scholarships and grants at USF has grown by 58 percent, with the ongoing USF: Unstoppable Campaign having raised more than $66 million to create endowed and operating scholarships.


USF has appeared on the Kiplinger’s Best Value list consistently since 2008. More than 600 public institutions were analyzed in preparation of this year’s rankings.


"This is further testimony to the quality of our faculty and the programs they deliver, even as public resources for higher education in Florida continue to diminish," said USF Provost Ralph Wilcox of the newest honor from Kiplinger’s.


"It also speaks approvingly to the efforts of countless others across campus, who have enabled the university to keep its promise to our students of a quality education at an affordable price through a collective spirit of innovation and entrepreneurialism. As we begin implementation of the university’s Strategic Plan 2013-2018 with its renewed emphasis on student success, we rely on those important institutional qualities to continue to help guide USF in these uncertain economic times.”


Kevin Burke can be reached at 813-974-0192.