CLEMSON  — Clemson University has qualified for a list of America’s 50 best public colleges and universities, according to a new national report.

The study by Business First puts Clemson University in 38th place out of 499 four-year public institutions across the country based on 22 indicators of academic excellence, affordability, diversity and economic strength.

Clemson is ranked highest among the 12 South Carolina public colleges that are included in the rankings.

“We continue to receive record numbers of applications from prospective students because they know what this and other rankings reveal: Clemson is one of the nation’s best universities,” said Robert Barkley, Clemson’s director of admissions.

Business First’s formula was designed to identify the public universities and colleges that offer the best educational experiences to their students. The rankings were limited to public schools because those institutions generally offer the least expensive path toward a college degree.

The highest scores went to schools with highly selective admissions processes, strong retention and graduation rates, impressive earnings by alumni, generous resources, affordable tuitions and housing costs, diverse faculties and student bodies, and economically robust communities.

Business First’s study is based on a wide array of the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Business First is a Buffalo-based publication owned by American City Business Journals Inc. ACBJ, the nation’s largest publisher of local business news and information, is headquartered in Charlotte.