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University Beat

Gainesville, Tallahassee among Best College Towns

The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) has come out with its 2012-2013 list of the 75 Best College Towns and Cities, and while Gainesville (University of Florida) and Tallahassee (Florida State University) make the grade, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota (USF), Orlando (UCF) and Miami (University of Miami) fall short.

The AIER's College Destinations Index looked at the 227 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with student populations of 15,000 or more. They then evaluated them on a dozen different factors to "provide a snapshot of each community’s overall academic and cultural environment, quality of life and employment opportunities in the area."

According to Steven Cunningham, AIER Director of Research and Education, “The characteristics that make up a great college destination often make a location ideal for business, retirement and tourism. A top AIER College Destinations Index ranking should be just as important to the town or city as it is to the schools located there and the families and students attending or considering them.”

Boston (over 50 institutions of higher education, led by Boston University and Harvard) topped the list of the Major Metropolitan areas (populations greater than 2.5 million), while San Jose, California (San Jose State) led the Mid-size Metros (1 to 2.5 million people).

Gainesville came in 4th on the Small Metro list (250,000 to 1 million residents), trailing Ann Arbor, Michigan (University of Michigan); Madison, Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin); and Boulder, Colorado (University of Colorado). Tallahassee was 10th among Small Metro areas.