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Three Tribal College's Among Top in Country

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Navajo Technical College in New Mexico, Fort Belknap College in Montana and Chief Dull Knife College in Montana were recently named on The Aspen Institute’s list of 120 community colleges eligible for the inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The prize—a privately-funded $1 million—was announced by President Barack Obama last October at the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges.

“Community colleges are a critical linchpin in America’s efforts to educate our way to greater prosperity and equality. If the U.S. is to regain a leadership position in postsecondary education and economic growth, community colleges must be a big part of the solution: they account for most of the growth in college enrollment over the last decade; they disproportionately educate students of color and first-generation college students who most need higher education to get a foothold in the new economy; and community colleges are the primary source of skills training for workers in many sectors of the economy,” according to the Aspen Institute website.

The 120 colleges represent 32 states and were proved to have strong student success in completion, consistent improvement over time and equal outcomes for students of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Choosing those 120 colleges was just the first step.

“This first round of the Prize selection process was designed to incorporate a broad range of criteria using nationally available data. We looked at a variety of metrics in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), including graduation rates, retention rates, and the total number of degrees/certificates awarded relative to total enrollment, taking into account part-time students as well as full-time students,” according to the Aspen website.

Now, those 120 eligible colleges will submit more detailed data on graduation rates, employment and earnings, and student learning, according to a White House Blog. In September eight to 10 finalists will be named, and in December—following campus visits by Aspen—prize winners will be announced.