U.S. News & World Report Releases Annual Rankings

Posted: August 21, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

George Mason University remains among the third tier of institutions of higher learning, according to “America’s Best Colleges 2007” just released by U.S. News & World Report.

The only Virginia-based colleges or universities ranked ahead of Mason by U.S News & World Report are the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary (first tier) and Virginia Tech (second tier). The only other Virginia-based institution ranked in the third tier is Virginia Commonwealth University.

Mason is listed in only one other category: “Debt Load, Class of 2005.” As explained by the guide, this category refers to institutions whose students in the class of 2005 have the heaviest and lightest debt loads. Data compiled by U.S. News include loans taken out by students from the colleges, from financial institutions, and from federal, state and local governments.

Mason was ranked 19th among those national institutions where students graduated with the least amount of debt. According to the guide, 47 percent of Mason’s students graduated in 2005 with an average debt of $13,607. Mason was the only Virginia-based college or university included in this category.

By way of comparison, Princeton University was ranked first in this category with only 26 percent of its students graduating in 2005 with an average debt of $4,370.

The guide identifies Mason as a “national university” based on categories developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2000. There are 248 American universities (162 public and 86 private) in this overall category. These institutions offer a wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral degrees; some emphasize research.

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