Best and Worst of American Colleges and Universities in 2013

With 2013 just about at a close, here's a look back at the highs and lows of being a student at one of America's colleges or universities.



  • MOOC: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) seem to be the way of the future, with 1,351 references made to them in U.S. newspapers this year, compared with only three last year and 286 the year before.



  • More Degrees Granted: CBS News reports that of the working age population (ages 25-64), 38.7% of Americans have earned either a two- or four-year degree.



  • Metropolitan Areas are Highly Educated: In the same CBS News article, 15 metropolitan areas across the United States have college graduation rates of at least 40%. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria leads the pack at 54.73%, with St. Louis bookending the list at 41.70%—each city is above the national average.



  • Individual States Keep Improving: Lumina Foundation reported that in 2011, the top 10 states—all with numbers above the national average—by degree attainment were Massachusetts (50.8%); Colorado (47.0%); Minnesota (46.6%); Connecticut (46.4%); Vermont (46.2%); New Hampshire (45.8%); Maryland (45.4%); New Jersey (45.1%); Virginia (45.0%); and North Dakota (44.7%).



  • U.S. Colleges Even More Attractive to Foreign Students: For the seventh year in a row, the number of foreign students coming to study in the United States has risen, believing American schools offer a solid education. In 2012, almost 820,000 international students registered at American colleges, up 7% from the year before.






  • Rising Tuition: The average published tuition at public four-year colleges and universities is $8,893 (2.9% higher than last year), while private institutions charge an average of $30,090 (compared with $28946.58 in the previous school year.)



  • Increased Debt Load: Students are now graduating with an average debt load of $29,400, way up from $26,600 from 2011. Student loan debt has been steadily increasing each year at an average rate of 6% between 2008 to 2012.



  • More Students Owe Money: CNN Money reports that 7 out of 10 seniors graduated with student loan debt, with 20% of their debt going to private lenders who often post higher interest rates.



  • Overdue Loan Debts: On the American Student Assistance's website, of the 37 million borrowers who still owe money, 14.5% (5.4 million) have at least one past due student loan account, with about $85 billion (out of a total of $870 billion to $1 trillion total owed) past due.



  • Inability to Meet Deadlines: The U.S. Department of Education presents a sobering statistic—just over a third (37%) of federal student loan borrowers between 2004 and 2009 paid their bills on time.



  • Dropout Rate: According to the Washington Post, a dismally low 13% students enrolled in two-year colleges actually get their degree after two years. And if you look at four-year colleges, 70% of Americans matriculate but less than two-thirds graduate. If you include community colleges, the total graduation rate is just 53%—only Hungary does worse.



  • Minorities: The percentage of Hispanics and blacks who graduate from college is far less than their white peers, with slightly more than half of the former earning a degree and just 42% for the latter.


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