Southwest Florida Colleges and Universities

There are a few colleges and universities in the Southwest Florida region. See how four of these schools stack up against each other to see if one is a good fit for you.

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School Ranking Overview

Students in Southwest Florida can choose from vocational and trade schools, 4-year colleges and universities, and community colleges. In this article, we'll explore four of the largest public or private non-profit colleges and universities in the region, all of which offer fairly traditional programs. The top three schools are then ranked in the categories listed below:

  • Program Variety
  • Net Price
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

Students who haven't selected a major are encouraged to consider schools with plenty of program options. The following three schools had the most program variety of the four discussed in this article.

1. Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University is located in Fort Myers and ranks first with roughly 65 total programs. Students who attend this school can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as graduate certificates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), some popular fields of study for the 2012-2013 school year included criminal justice, elementary education, psychology and resort management.

2. State College of Florida - Manatee-Sarasota

State College of Florida - Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) in Bradenton offers about 47 programs and places second. While it's technically a 4-year school, most students here earn associate's degrees. According to the NCES, popular areas of study for 2012-2013 included liberal studies, registered nursing and business administration, among others.

3. Edison State College

Located in Fort Myers, Edison State College is a 4-year public school that primarily offers associate's programs. The school rounds out this category with roughly 36 total programs. Some popular fields of study among students were business administration, registered nursing, liberal studies and emergency medical technology.

Net Price

The cost of education is a foremost consideration for many prospective students. In the category, the three schools with the lowest net prices for undergraduates are ranked. To calculate the net price for a school, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) takes the total average expenses incurred by undergraduates and subtracts the average amount of financial aid received. These figures represent prices for the 2012-2013 academic year.

1. Edison State College

Edison State Colleges takes first place with a net price of $9,836 per year. Roughly 80% of first-time students received some form of financial aid for the 2012-2013 academic year.

2. State College of Florida - Manatee-Sarasota (SCF)

SCF takes second with a net price of $10,461 per year. Similar to Edison State, about 81% of students who first enrolled in fall 2012 were recipients of grants, scholarships and/or student loans.

3. Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University ranks third with an annual net price of $13,297. About 81% of incoming first-time students at this school were granted financial aid of some kind.

Graduation Rate

To calculate graduation rates, the NCES looks at the number of first-time full-time undergraduates who graduated within 150% of normal time - that's six years or less for a bachelor's program. A relatively low graduation rate is one indicator of a school's overall academic success. The following schools had the highest graduation rates of the four profiled in this article, according to the NCES.

1. Florida Gulf Coast University

With an overall graduation rate of just 44%, Florida Gulf Coast University gets a first-place finish. It's retention rate was a bit stronger - of the first-time undergraduates who enrolled full-time in fall 2012, 77% came back the following year to resume studying.

2. State College of Florida - Manatee-Sarasota

SCF ranks second with a fairly low graduation rate of 35%. Roughly 13% of first-time, full-time students here transferred out after enrolling.

3. Edison State College

With another comparatively low overall graduation rate of only 30%, Edison State College comes in third place. About 15% of first-time, full-time students transferred out in 2012-2013.

Student-Faculty Ratio

Many students prefer schools with low student-faculty ratios. That's because low ratios often mean more personalized attention from faculty members and smaller class sizes with greater opportunities for participation. The following three Southwest Florida colleges had the lowest student-faculty ratios of the four we're discussing, according to NCES data as of 2013.

1. Hodges University

Hodges University in Naples takes first with a student-faculty ratio of 14:1. About 175 full-time and part-time professors were employed at this small 4-year school, and they taught a student body of about 2,100.

2. Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University takes second with a student-faculty ratio of 22:1. As of 2013, there were about 14,100 students enrolled and about 660 full-time and part-time instructional faculty members.

3. State College of Florida - Manatee/Sarasota

SCF also has a student-faculty ratio of 22:1, though it's smaller student population compared to Florida Gulf Coast University leads to a third place finish. Roughly 10,500 students were enrolled as of fall 2013, and they were taught by 510 full-time and part-time professors.

Southwest Florida Schools: At a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
Edison State College Fort Myers, FL 4-year, public Undergraduate certificates, associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees #3 in Program Variety, #1 in Net Price, #3 in Graduation Rate
Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers, FL 4-year, public Post-bachelor's and post-master's certificates; associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees #1 in Program Variety, #3 in Net Price, #1 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-Faculty Ratio
Hodges University Naples, FL 4-year, private non-profit Associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees #1 in Student-Faculty Ratio
State College of Florida - Manatee-Sarasota Bradenton, FL 4-year, public Undergraduate certificates, associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees #2 in Program Variety, #2 in Net Price, #2 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-Faculty Ratio
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