NWCC Finalist For Aspen Prize

Today the Aspen Institute announced the winners and finalists of the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s premier award for two-year colleges. Northwest Iowa Community College was recognized as a finalist, applauded for their outstanding work helping students succeed in college and beyond.

The Aspen Prize jury was impressed by Northwest Iowa Community College’s remarkably high completion rate: 74 percent of its students finish in three years. The college achieves this through strong structured and cohort-based programs, as well as thoughtful, effective systems that ensure faculty and staff respond quickly whenever students struggle in their coursework.

“The results are not just strong graduation rates, but exceptional success rates after graduating,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Completers earn about 30 percent more than other new hires in the area, and 62 percent of transfer students go on to earn bachelor’s degrees. That’s more than 15 points above the national average.”

Since its creation in 2010, the Aspen Prize has been the nation’s signature recognition of community colleges that are achieving high, improving, and equitable outcomes for students both while in college and after graduating. The winners and finalists represent the amazing potential of America’s thousand-plus community colleges to lift up individuals and communities by serving as engines of prosperity and social mobility.

Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges that show outstanding performance in six critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, equitable access, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. The selection process for this year’s prize began in October 2021, when an expert data panel guided the Aspen Institute in crafting a formula to assess student outcomes at nearly 1,000 community colleges in key areas such as retention, completion, and equity. Based on that formula, 150 top community colleges were invited to apply. A selection committee of 16 higher education experts reviewed 109 submitted applications and chose ten finalists in May 2022, following the announcement of 25 semifinalists in April 2022.

  • Amarillo College, TX (winner)
  • Broward College, FL
  • Imperial Valley College, CA (winner)
  • Hostos Community College (CUNY), NY
  • Kingsborough Community College (CUNY), NY
  • Moorpark College. CA
  • Northwest Iowa Community College, IA
  • San Jacinto College, TX
  • South Puget Sound Community College, WA
  • Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, WI
  • 2021: San Antonio College (TX)
  • 2019: Indian River State College (FL) and Miami Dade College (FL)
  • 2017: Lake Area Technical Institute (SD)
  • 2015: Santa Fe College (FL)
  • 2013: Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA)
  • 2011: Valencia College (FL)