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New Rankings Include 'Affordable Elite' and 'Worst' Colleges

Washington Monthly magazine's just-released Annual College Guide and Ranking this year includes two new lists: one looks at selective colleges that give students in need a price break, and the other identifies what it considers the poorest performing schools.

The Washington-based magazine rates schools on whether they're promoting public service, producing research, and improving social mobility. Topping the national university list again this year is the University of California, San Diego, followed by the University of California, Riverside; the University of California, Berkeley; Texas A&M University; and the University of California, Los Angeles.

This year, a new ranking, American's Most Affordable Elite Colleges, was led by the University of California, Los Angeles; Harvard University; and Williams College in Massachusetts.

The list of America's Worst Colleges included the New England Institute of Art in Massachusetts (for-profit), Columbia College in Hollywood, Calif., and Fountain Head College of Technology in Tennessee (for profit). To evaluate schools in this category, Washington Monthly identified those with a high "net price" (tuition minus grants and scholarships), high average student debt, a high "cohort default rate" (a federal measure that tracks the percentage of each college's freshman class that defaults on their student loans within three years of beginning to repay them), and a low graduation rate.

Again, Washington Monthly provides the Best Bang for the Buck colleges that help low- and middle-income students earn degrees at reasonable prices. That list was led by the University of Florida; Georgia Institute of Technology, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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