College Affordability and U.S. News & World Report Rankings:

Analyzing National and Regional Differences


  • Z Taylor The University of Texas at Austin
  • Izzat Alsmadi



college affordability, college rankings, student debt, higher education, universities, U.S. News & World Report rankings


In an era of billions of dollars in outstanding student loan debt, researchers have posited that the U.S. News & World Report rankings continue to be an influential source of information for prospective students, yet these rankings do not include college affordability metrics in their ranking algorithm. As a result, this study performed a series of college affordability experiments by integrating affordability metrics into the U.S. News ranking algorithm to explore whether any affordability metric predicts overall ranking. Results suggest better ranked institutions enrolled lower percentages of Pell grant receiving students (p < 0.00), while the percentage of undergraduates receiving state aid predicted better rankings only at Regional Midwest and Regional West Universities (p < 0.05). These results suggest many college affordability metrics are not predictive of ranking among the best-ranked, elite institutions. Implications for theory, practice, and college student choice are addressed.


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Author Biographies

Z Taylor, The University of Texas at Austin

Z. W. TAYLOR is a Ph. D. student at The University of Texas at Austin. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles focused on the linguistics and digital accessibility of higher education communication. Email:

Izzat Alsmadi

IZZAT ALSMADI, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the department of computing and cyber security at the Texas A&M, San Antonio. He has his master and PhD in Software Engineering from North Dakota State University in 2006 and 2008. He has more than 100 conference and journal publications. Email:


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How to Cite

Taylor, Z., & Alsmadi, I. (2020). College Affordability and U.S. News & World Report Rankings: : Analyzing National and Regional Differences. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, 9(1), 1–25.

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