Columbia State named as one of 150 Top US community colleges

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

For the second year, Columbia State Community College was named as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. This prize is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

Columbia State was selected from a pool of approximately 1,000 public, two-year colleges nationwide to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize.

“This is an award that speaks to the quality of instruction and service deliverance by the faculty and staff of Columbia State,” said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. “This is their award, and one the community and college can be proud of.”

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Aspen Prize recognizes institutions with outstanding achievements in four areas: learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

Columbia State and 149 other community colleges announced were selected from a national pool of more than 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes in three areas:

Performance (retention, graduation rates including transfers, and degrees and certificates per 100 full-time equivalent students)

Improvement (awarded for steady improvement in each performance metric over time)

Equity (evidence of strong completion outcomes for minority and low-income students)

A full list of the selected colleges and details on the selection process are available at

Columbia State will move forward to the next round of the competition for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence by submitting an application to be reviewed through a rigorous evaluation for a spot on the top ten Aspen Prize finalists list. Top ten finalists will be named in May 2018. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner, finalist(s) with distinction, and rising star(s) in spring 2019.