Minnesota State Community and Technical College has been named one of the top 150 community colleges in the United States by the Aspen Institute, making M State eligible to compete for the $1 million 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
The Aspen Prize recognizes two-year colleges for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and access and success for minority and low-income students.
The Aspen Institute’s top 150 colleges are chosen from more than 1,000 public community colleges nationwide. M State – with campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena – has been ranked among the nation’s top community colleges three times before by the Aspen Institute, most recently in 2014.
“Once again we are pleased to be recognized in this way by the Aspen Institute for the quality work that we accomplish,” said M State President Peggy Kennedy.
M State and the other 149 community colleges announced today were selected based on data on student outcomes in the areas of performance, improvement and equity for minority and low-income students.
“Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility in our country,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college.”
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.
As one of the Aspen Institute’s top 150 colleges, M State is eligible to compete for $1 million in prize funds and is eligible for student scholarships and program recognition as part of the Siemens Technical Scholars Program. Up to 50 Siemens Technical Scholars will be selected from programs that provide outstanding preparation for high-demand jobs in manufacturing, energy, healthcare and information technology.
Based on the applications submitted, 10 community colleges will be selected to advance to the next round of competition, and the Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to the 10 finalists in the fall.
Last year, M State ranked in the top 10 of two-year colleges with the best return on investment in a first-of-its-kind study by Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank. The study indicated that graduates of M State earn more than their most of their peers from similar colleges, based on salary and other data from government and private sources. At mid-career, according to the report, M State graduates earn on average $59,900, or 13 percent more than similar graduates of comparable colleges.