Alexandria Technical & Community College named Top 150 U.S. Community College, eligible for 2021 Aspen Prize

$1 Million Prize Recognizes Excellence in Equitable Outcomes for Students in and After College

Alexandria Technical & Community College, Top 150 U.S. Community College

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 5, 2019 — The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Alexandria Technical & Community College as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges. Based on strong and improving student outcomes—including in learning, completion rates, employment rates, earnings, and equity—15 percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize.

The Aspen Prize is awarded every two years, and Alexandria Technical & Community College is one of only two Minnesota colleges consistently named eligible since the award’s inception in 2011.

Alexandria Technical & Community College (ATCC) provides quality hands-on and liberal arts education to more than 3,900 students in 40+ programs and transfer pathways each year. Most programs can be completed in two years or less and skilled graduates are ready to step to the forefront of their chosen professions. With the highest graduation rate of all Minnesota State institutions and a 98% job placement rate, ATCC continues a longstanding reputation as an academic institution of excellence.

“Our legacy is built on a culture of excellence, innovation, and learning,” said Michael Seymour, President, Alexandria Technical & Community College. “ATCC continues to challenge and empower students and faculty resulting in the highest graduation and job placement rates among Minnesota’s two-year colleges. We are proud to once again be named in the top 15 percent of community colleges nationwide.”

The 150 community colleges named as eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide 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 that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges.

“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students—through graduation and beyond.”

The top ten finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize 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.

For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit