In a new ranking of the best states for higher education in America, only one received an overall score of zero.

South Dakota.

According to the SmartAsset study, colleges and universities in the Mount Rushmore State ranked well below the national average in several key categories that helped make up the final rankings.

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Data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System shows South Dakota has the tenth-highest average net price for first-time, full-time undergraduate students. The $16,713 average is more than $3,000 above the national average.

Overall, Pennsylvania schools had the highest net price ($22,094), while schools in Florida had the lowest ($7,824).

Speaking of money, the value of a South Dakota education is the sixth-lowest in America.

According to numbers from Payscale, the 20-year return on investment for higher education in the Mount Rushmore State is $237,878, which factors in two decades of median pay for a graduate with a bachelor’s degree minus the costs for attending the higher education institution for four years and 24 years of median pay for a high school graduate.

That figure is nearly $123,000 less than the national average.

Schools in California have the best return on investment ($480,358); colleges and universities in Tennessee have the worst ($223,566).

In the other categories, South Dakota was well below the national average in both student-to-faculty ratio (16.14, national average is 19.18) and the percentage of in-state students (12%, national average is 23%).

South Dakota was one of nine states to receive an 'F' grade in the study. Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Montana, Mississippi, Arizona, Kansas, and Hawaii were the others.


  1. South Dakota
  2. Maine
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Tennessee
  5. Montana (tie)
  6. Mississippi (tie)
  7. Arizona
  8. Kansas (tie)
  9. Hawaii (tie)
  10. Oregon

Virginia was the overall best place for higher education in America. It was one of seven states to receive a grade of  'A' or 'A-'. New Jersey, North Carolina, Connecticut, California, Wyoming, and Michigan were the others.


  1. Virginia
  2. New Jersey
  3. North Carolina
  4. Connecticut
  5. California
  6. Wyoming
  7. Michigan
  8. Indiana (tie)
  9. Rhode Island (tie)
  10. Pennsylvania

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