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Introduction: A Different Kind of College Ranking by the Editors

Eight years ago, the Washington Monthly published its first annual college rankings. Back in 2005, America was still operating under a compact with its citizens, colleges, and universities that had stood for the better part of the previous hundred years. The taxpayers would invest in basic research while keeping tuition at public institutions low enough that middle- and lower-class students could afford a degree. In return, colleges would produce the human and intellectual capital needed to sustain economic growth and civic life.