State vs. Southern: Who takes the W?

The Georgia State-Georgia Southern rivalry goes back to a time long before us. But when it comes to which school is better than the other, what is the correct answer based purely on facts?  

When I asked Georgia Southern student Cheyenne Rhaney why she thought her school was better than Georgia State. she gave me a pretty common answer.

“From my perspective, I feel that we are able to get a more of a ‘college feel’ because our campus isn’t so spread out,” Rhaney said. “Specifically, for my program, our professors and advisers make sure there are doors open for us. It’s a big little campus.” 

But when I asked for factual, legitimate reasons behind why it was Southern over State, she said that Georgia Southern has lower tuition, lower housing, better academics and higher retention rates.

Well, I am here before you today to delve into whether that’s true or not, as well as look at two other categories that will answer the age-old question: State or Southern? 

The first category is sports. Georgia State and Georgia Southern have only been competing against each other in football since 2014. However, they have been playing each other in other sports, such as basketball, since the ’70s.

In 2015, the two schools began a rivalry series. The series has a set of point accumulation rules and the school with the most points at the end of the athletic year wins a trophy and bragging rights. Southern has unfortunately lost the series every year since it was established.  

The next category is statistics. According to, Georgia State has the upper hand over Georgia Southern in many different categories. 

For example, in the area of median earnings six years after college, students at Georgia State are expected to earn at least $43,300 a year and 25% of that graduating class is expected to earn more than $62,700 a year. At Georgia Southern, six years after graduation, students are expected to earn $41,900 and 25% of that graduating class is expected to earn $59,200. Although it’s not a huge difference, it’s a difference nonetheless. 

Georgia State actually has higher retention and graduation rates, lower tuition costs and a higher percentage of students receiving financial aid than Georgia Southern, according to Once again, the round goes to Georgia State. 

Last but not least, the name. You can find hundreds of posts across all social media with the hashtags #StateNotSouthern (and vice versa) or #TheRealGSU. This all stems from the two schools’ abbreviations and who really has the right to call themselves the “real” GSU. 

While  Georgia State was established in 1913, it was officially granted university status in 1969, whereas Georgia Southern, despite being founded in 1906, was only granted the same status in 1990. Since Georgia State became a university first, we got a claim to the abbreviation “GSU”. It’s on our school’s URL, it’s in our student and faculty emails, our sports paraphernalia and so many other things. 

Georgia Southern can’t really claim to be the real GSU because they’re not even branded by that abbreviation. Georgia Southern’s official abbreviation is “GS,” so there is really no basis for their argument here. 

This wasn’t a public display of school spirit. Based on the information gathered, Georgia State takes the win as the real and better GSU.