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The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named North Iowa Area Community College as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

Based on strong and improving student outcomes, including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity, 15 percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize.

“NIACC is proud to be one of only two community colleges in Iowa invited to apply for the renowned Aspen Prize,” NIACC President Steve Schulz said. “The $1 million Aspen Prize is awarded every two years to the nation’s best community college based on the successful outcomes of their students. To be recognized for the fourth time in row is a credit to our faculty and staff.”

The 150 community colleges named as eligible were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes. Located in 39 states in urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students, these colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector.

Data show over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible college.

The top 10 finalists will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.

Previous winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence are: Miami Dade College (FL) and Indian River State College (FL), 2019; Lake Area Technical College (SD), 2017; Santa Fe College (FL), 2015; Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA), 2013; Valencia College (FL), 2011.

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