In a brief overview, here are general rankings for 2015 (for the full list of rankings, click here):


Rankings that students and families might find especially helpful include:

“Student Loan Debt at Graduation.” This data includes loans taken out by students from their colleges, from private financial institutions and from federal, state and local governments, says U.S. News. Loans to parents are not included.

The national universities with the most student loan debt are: Florida Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst., Andrews University, Clarkson University, and Texas Christian University. The rankings also include the worst of national liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and regional colleges.

The national universities with the least student loan debt are: Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University, California Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College. Available data for the categories listed above are also available.

“Programs to Look For.” Based on the nominations of college presidents, chief academic officers and deans of admissions, these programs highlight the “best possible educational experience for undergrads, recognizing that certain enriched offerings, from learning communities and internships to study abroad and senior capstone projects, are linked to student success,” says the publication.

According to college leaders, the colleges with the best ‘First-Year Experience’ include: Alverno College, Appalachian State University, Butler University, and others. Other categories can be found in this ranking.

The 2015 edition also includes web-exclusive rankings: “High School Counselor Rankings,” “Best Undergraduate Teaching,” “Up-and-Coming Schools,” “Ethnic and Economic Diversity,” and “Best Colleges for Veterans.”

But perhaps most revelatory is this year’s focus on campus crime and student loan default data, all from the U.S. Department of Education.

Yearly campus crime statistics are required from most colleges by federal law, and this data can be found in the ‘Campus Safety’ section of each school’s profile page. The data comes from the DOE’s Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool.

U.S. News has also published each school’s three-year federal loan default rate under the ‘Cost and Financial Aid’ section of school’s online profiles. The default rate data, which also comes from the DOE, shows the percentage of students from each school who were in default on their federal student loans at the end of the second year after starting loan repayments in 2010.

Both the campus safety statistics, as well as the loan default rates, are not part of the “Best Colleges” rankings methodology and are presented for informational purposes only. More on why this data is not included in the methodology can be found in the post, “U.S. News publishes college crime statistics, loan default data” here.

A full description of U.S. News’ methodology can be found here.


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