UF jumped five spots from last year to the No. 2 slot on Kiplinger’s 2018 “Best College Values” list among the nation’s public universities.

The university came in behind University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. UF also ranked No. 32 on Kiplinger’s combined list of public and private institutions, making it the only Florida university in the top 50.

Kiplinger’s complied its annual list of 300 four-year public and private institutions by comparing tuition, standardized testing scores, admission and graduation rates, student debt and average salaries after graduation.

UF has been in the No. 2 position in the past, but last year’s No. 7 rank came as a surprise, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said.

“We didn’t do anything consciously to go up in that particular ranking. I’m not really sure exactly why we did,” he said. “The No. 7 position was actually kind of the anomaly.”

UF follows Kiplinger’s list because of the magazine’s reputation and methodology of determining a university’s value, Orlando said. Due to the rising cost of college attendance across the nation, high school seniors and their families are paying more attention to college values.

“When we’re on a list that labels as a best value, that’s a good thing,” Orlando said. “I think that students and their families will pay attention to that.”

Earlier this year, UF ranked No. 9 among the best public universities by U.S. News and World Report, according to Alligator archives. UF also ranked No. 18 on Money magazine’s “The Best Colleges for Your Money.”

Talia Lopez, a UF marketing sophomore, researched university rankings while applying to schools. Although cost is an important factor, Lopez said her decision was influenced by prestigiousness and academic quality.

“I was willing to take out many loans for a school that had the best academics,” the 20-year-old said.

Lopez considers UF to be academically strong, but said she was surprised to learn about UF’s No. 2 spot.

“There are so many other major public universities in the country that to beat out almost all of them is really impressive,” she said.

Contact Amanda Rosa at arosa@alligator.org. Follow Amanda on Twitter @amandanicrosa.