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Zimmerman's Research Guide


Colleges and Universities

Print materials for profiling U.S. colleges and universities include: Barron's Profiles of American Colleges," The Fiske Guide to Colleges; The Insider's Guide to the Colleges; The Best [about 350] Colleges, the US News & World Report issue on "America's Best Colleges;" and Peterson's Guide to 4 Year Colleges (you can buy them in a bookstore or get copies at a public library). The Peterson's college guide is on Westlaw (PCD), as is Peterson's GradLine database (P-Gradline). Also check out the school's Web site and College Prowler.

Other topics covered in this entry:

A. Attorneys: In-house counsel for colleges and university are listed in the NACUA Directory of Membership and Services, published by the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

B. Debt Ratings: Many colleges and universities sell bonds that are rated by Moody's or one of the other rating agencies. The explanations for the ratings tell you how the college is doing financially at any given time. To look for this information, see "Debt Ratings."

C. Handbooks and Manuals: Faculty and student handbooks and manuals from many institutions are posted in a searchable database called the University Policy Handbook Index.

D. News and Newspapers: News about colleges and universities are included in general news databases (to avoid sports articles I generally "not" out the words "sports," "football," "baseball," "basketball," "score" and "game").

In addition, the U-Wire database has articles from hundreds of college newspapers. U-Wire is available on Lexis (NEWS;UWIRE) and Westlaw (U-WIRE).

E. Rankings and Accreditation: The best known U.S. rankings are done by U.S. News & World Report. Forbes started a rival ranking in 2008 covering U.S. colleges and universities worldwide (see e.g., America's Best Colleges 2008, The World's Best Universities 2009, 2010, etc.). Kiplinger ranks the "100 Best Values in" Public and Private colleges. Link to additional U.S. rankings through the Colleges and University Rankings page of the Education and Social Science Library at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For an overview of the different ranking criteria, see the 30 Ways to Rate a College chart in the Chronicle of Higher Education (August 29, 2010).

You can check the accreditation of U.S. schools using a database Database of Accredited Programs and Institutions by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Post-Secondary Education.

International rankings are available in Academic Ranking of World Universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (IHE-SJTU), from the U.S. News & World Report's Best Global Universities, and World University Rankings by the Times Higher Education Supplement.

F. Saving for College: Many states sponsor a tax-favored "529 plan" (see 16 U.S.C. 529) to help parents save for their children's' college education. Links to information on 529 plans is posted by Collegesavings.org. Also investigate "Education IRAs," Uniform Gift (and "Uniform Transfers") to Minors Act accounts, the use of regular IRAs for college savings, etc.

G. Taxation: Leading tax treatises concerning institutions of higher education are A Guide to Federal Tax Issues for Colleges and Universities by the National Association of Colleges and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and The Tax Law of Colleges and Universities by Bertrand M. Harding, published by J. Wiley & Sons.

H. Video Tours: Many colleges and universities post video tours on their web sites; you can find direct links through CampusTours.com. YouniversityTV.com does independent videos, and Collegiate Choice posts live videos of the campus tours provided to prospective students.

I. Web Sites: Links to the Web sites of U.S. colleges and universities are posted by the University of Florida and Yahoo!. Links to colleges around the globe are posted by the Braintrack University Index and the Yahoo! Directory.

If the Web site you want isn't on any of these lists, search the name of the school in a couple of good search engines.

See Also
Debt Ratings
Dissertations and Masters' Thesis
Nonprofit Organizations
Tax-Exempt Organizations

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman