Top 120 Community Colleges in 2013 according to the Aspen Institute

by Joel Mackey on May 9, 2012

It’s hard to get a good list of the best Community Colleges in the United States but there are organizations that do a good job of creating a list. One institution that does this every year is the Aspen Institute which is based out of Washington DC, Aspen, Colorado and Wye River off of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Aspen Institute Top 120 List

Aspen Institute Top 120 List

The Top 120 Community Colleges in 2013 residing in the US according to the Aspen Institute was released. Many community colleges aim to make this list and make sure to issue press releases and produce materials noting their spot on this list.

The 120 Best Community Colleges reveals the top 10 percent of Community Colleges that go above and beyond in their community and innovation in their approach to education. The information that was referenced was data like IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) and data from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.

Information like total number of degrees and certificates earned by students, graduation rates, retention rates of students in classes and how the students and local populations are effected by the community college’s services are all considered.

The following was what was released by the Aspen Institute for 2013 Best Community Colleges that were elgible for the final award:

The Aspen Institute is pleased to name the following 120 community colleges eligible for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. We recognize that there are many community colleges around the country that are employing innovative strategies and achieving excellent results for their students. The bar for the Aspen Prize was intentionally set high in order to identify those institutions that have demonstrated high levels of student success.

In a comprehensive review of publicly available data, these 120 two-year institutions—from 31 states—have demonstrated strong outcomes considering three areas of student success:

  • Student success in persistence, completion, and transfer
  • Consistent improvement in outcomes over time, and
  • Equity in outcomes for students of all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

A detailed technical description of how Round 1 eligibility was determined can be found here.

*Please note that the winner of the inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Valencia College in Orlando, FL, is not eligible to apply for the Prize in the second year, but is included on the list below to recognize its strong performance.


  • Enterprise State Community College, Enterprise, AL
  • Northeast Alabama Community College, Rainsville, AL
  •  Wallace State Community College – Hanceville, Hanceville, AL


  • Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale, AZ
  • Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, AZ
  • Scottsdale Community College, Scottsdale, AZ


  • Arkansas State University-Beebe, Beebe, AR
  • College of the Ouachitas, Malvern, AR
  • National Park Community College, Hot Springs, AR


  • Coastline Community College, Fountain Valley, CA
  • San Joaquin Delta College, Stockton, CA
  • Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA


  • Brevard Community College, Cocoa, FL
  • Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Chipola College, Marianna, FL
  • College of Central Florida, Ocala, FL
  • Indian River State College, Fort Pierce, FL
  • Lake-Sumter Community College, Leesburg, FL
  • Miami Dade College, Miami, FL
  • Northwest Florida State College, Niceville, FL
  • Palm Beach State College, Lake Worth, FL
  • Pasco-Hernando Community College, New Port Richey, FL
  • Saint Johns River State College, Palatka, FL
  • Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL
  • South Florida Community College, Avon Park, FL
  • Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee, FL
  • Valencia College*, Orlando, FL


  • Illinois Eastern Comm. Colleges-Lincoln Trail College, Robinson, IL
  • Illinois Eastern Comm. Colleges-Olney Central College, Olney, IL
  • Illinois Eastern Comm. Colleges-Wabash Valley College, Mount Carmel, IL
  • Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL
  • Rend Lake College, Ina, IL
  • Spoon River College, Canton, IL


  • Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa, IA
  • Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • North Iowa Area Community College, Mason City, IA
  • Northeast Iowa Community College-Calmar, Calmar, IA
  • Northwest Iowa Community College, Sheldon, IA


  • Butler Community College, El Dorado, KS
  • Coffeyville Community College, Coffeyville, KS
  • Colby Community College, Colby, KS
  • Flint Hills Technical College, Emporia, KS
  • Garden City Community College, Garden City, KS
  • Hutchinson Community College, Hutchinson, KS
  • Manhattan Area Technical College, Manhattan, KS
  • North Central Kansas Technical College, Beloit, KS
  • Northwest Kansas Technical College, Goodland, KS
  • Pratt Community College, Pratt, KS
  • Salina Area Technical College, Salina, KS
  • Seward County Community College and Area Technical School, Liberal, KS
  • Wichita Area Technical College, Wichita, KS


  • Hazard Community and Technical College, Hazard, KY
  • Madisonville Community College, Madisonville, KY
  • Somerset Community College, Somerset, KY
  • Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, Cumberland, KY
  • West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, KY


  • Kennebec Valley Community College, Fairfield, ME
  • Washington County Community College, Calais, ME


  • Frederick Community College, Frederick, MD
  • Hagerstown Community College, Hagerstown, MD


  • Delta College, University Center, MI
  • Gogebic Community College, Ironwood, MI
  • Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek, MI
  • Macomb Community College, Warren, MI
  • Mott Community College, Flint, MI


  • Alexandria Technical and Community College, Alexandria, MN
  • Central Lakes College-Brainerd, Brainerd, MN
  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Fergus Falls, MN
  • Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Granite Falls, MN
  • Northland Community and Technical College, Thief River Falls, MN
  • Rainy River Community College, International Falls, MN
  • Ridgewater College, Willmar, MN


  • Itawamba Community College, Fulton, MS
  • Meridian Community College, Meridian, MS
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Perkinston, MS
  • Pearl River Community College, Poplarville, MS


  • Linn State Technical College, Linn, MO
  • Missouri State University-West Plains, West Plains, MO


  • Miles Community College, Miles City, MT


  • Northeast Community College, Norfolk, NE
  • Southeast Community College Area, Lincoln, NE

New Jersey

  • Bergen Community College, Paramus, NJ
  • Burlington County College, Pemberton, NJ
  • Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ

New Mexico

  • Navajo Technical College, Crownpoint, NM

New York

  • Broome Community College, Binghamton, NY
  • CUNY Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY
  • Finger Lakes Community College, Canandaigua, NY
  • Genesee Community College, Batavia, NY
  • Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, NY
  • Jefferson Community College, Watertown, NY

North Dakota

  • North Dakota State College of Science, Wahpeton, ND


  • Lorain County Community College, Elyria, OH


  • Northern Oklahoma College, Tonkawa, OK


  • Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, Lancaster, PA

South Carolina

  • University of South Carolina-Union, Union, SC

South Dakota

  • Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD
  • Mitchell Technical Institute, Mitchell, SD


  • Alvin Community College, Alvin, TX
  • Brazosport College, Lake Jackson, TX
  • Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, TX
  • El Paso Community College, El Paso, TX
  • Lee College, Baytown, TX
  • San Jacinto Community College, Pasadena, TX
  • Texas State Technical College-West Texas, Sweetwater, TX
  • Trinity Valley Community College, Athens, TX


  • Snow College, Ephraim, UT


  • Bellingham Technical College, Bellingham, WA
  • Olympic College, Bremerton, WA
  • Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom, Lakewood, WA
  • Renton Technical College, Renton, WA
  • Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla, WA
  • Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA

West Virginia

  • Carver Career Center, Charleston, WV


  • Chippewa Valley Technical College, Eau Claire, WI
  • Lakeshore Technical College, Cleveland, WI
  • Moraine Park Technical College, Fond du Lac, WI
  • Northcentral Technical College, Wausau, WI
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Green Bay, WI
  • Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, Fennimore, WI
  • Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Shell Lake, WI

For more information on the Aspen Institute here is a video on their organization:

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