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Virginia ranked as best state for higher education

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While Virginia has slipped in rankings as the best state for business, it has been named the top state for higher education.

The personal finance website SmartAsset has named Virginia the No. 1 state for higher education in its third annual ranking. The Old Dominion had been second in previous lists in 2016 and 2017.

“Each time we look at the best states for higher education, Virginia appears in the top 10,” SmartAsset says in explaining its selection.

“Virginia’s public colleges and universities effectively educate their students,” the website adds. “Virginia has one of the highest average graduation rates in our study at 70 percent. And, the average 20-year return on investment for graduates is $442,660, which is the fourth-highest ROI in our study. Additionally, the student-faculty ratio in Virginia rates seventh lowest in the nation.”

Virginia used to rank consistently as the best state for business in rankings by and CNBC. The commonwealth, however, has dropped to sixth on the Forbes list and 13th on CNBC’s.

California ranked second on the SmartAsset higher education list after being first last year. Other states in the top 10 include: third: Delaware, fourth: Iowa, fifth (tie): New Jersey and North Carolina, seventh: Wyoming, eighth: Vermont, ninth: Michigan and tenth (tie): Indiana and New York.

The SmartAsset study looked at four-year colleges in each state using a number of metrics, including undergraduate graduation rate, average net price, 20-year return on investment and student/faculty ratio.

According to SmartAsset’s research, Virginia’s student/faculty ratio is 15.75 to 1, its average net price is $16,886 and its in-state attendance rate is 60 percent.

SmartAssett says the in-state attendance rate reflects the number of first-time, in-state students in each state in 2014 as a percentage of the total number of students who graduated from high school in 2014.

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