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US News Rankings Czar Bob Morse Responds To Criticism

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U.S. News & World Report released their annual college rankings this week. Some parents, students and school officials were no doubt thrilled to see how colleges did this year, but some people are far less enthused.

Critics point to the criteria U.S. News uses, including reputation, alumni giving and exclusivity or acceptance rate, and aruging not enough attention is on graduation and job placement rates. (Although, U.S. News did make some changes to their methodology this year.) Even President Barack Obama dinged U.S. News by name in a speech recently where he said colleges are encouraged by the rankings to "game the numbers," and that U.S. News "actually rewards them, in some cases, for raising costs."

Bob Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, rebutted some of the criticism on HuffPost Live Wednesday.

"It's true we use financial resources in our ranking but we're not measuring spending on dorms and fancy food services," Morse said. "We're measuring how much the school spends on educating their students. So we're saying money matters if they're spending it on educating students."

But even if U.S. News ignores how much is spent on building luxury residence halls, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research the shows colleges do have more to gain by constructing country club-like facilities. Colleges stand to gain more applicants if they can boast fancy recreation centers or swanky dorms, and in turn, schools can be more selective with their admissions.

Another concern deals with several schools caught fudging the numbers they submitted to U.S. News for ranking consideration.

Morse responded that schools who cheat end up being "a very small proportion" of all colleges, and noted U.S. News was transparent in disclosing when they found out institutions submitted faulty data.

"We think the fact that U.S. News and has unranked the school for at least one year ... sends a message to the schools they should really care about the integrity of their external data reporting," Morse said. "And we think that the fact that schools have admitted this shows how much they care about going forward from that point wanting to have clean data for the public to look at."

Watch the full segment in the video above.

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