By Christina Sturgis
High school seniors and parents in Frankfort don’t have to look at out-of-state colleges for an expensive, quality education. When investigating possible college towns far and wide, the American Institute of Economic Research recommends you check out one that is only 30 miles away.
The Lexington-Fayette Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked ninth in the organization’s annual rankings of Top 75 Best College Cities and Towns, a look at 20 small metropolitan areas. The analysts said the Lexington area deserves consideration as a place for higher learning because of its favorable cost of living and retention of recent graduates – “brain gain” as opposed to “brain drain.”
Specifically, a two-bedroom apartment in the Lexington area costs $700 per month, while the same apartment was $1,068 per month in Boulder, Colo., ranked No. 1 overall of the small metros. The low cost of housing makes Lexington an attractive place to settle down; the median sale price of a home in Lexington is $149,900, compared to $209,200 nationwide, according to Zillow.
This boosts Lexington’s performance in the category of graduate retention, where it ranked No. 3. The overall top-ranked small metro, Boulder, came in 11th and second-place Ann Arbor came in 15th for retention of graduates.
Kentucky's Cabinet for Economic Development also touts the state’s schools and colleges.
“Our educational partners work closely to train workers in industry-specific skill sets and our ability to provide the flexibility and customization that companies require sets us apart,” according to a statement from the cabinet.
Cincinnati, a much larger metropolitan area about 80 miles north of Lexington, is ranked 15th on AIER’s ranking of mid-sized college towns. The Queen City has affordable housing – a two-bedroom apartment averages $740 per month – but ranks 14th out of 20 in retention of graduates.