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Aspen Institute Names EFSC in Running for Top National Prize

November 4, 2019 - Eastern Florida State College today was named one of 150 community colleges in the nation eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The prize is the nation’s top recognition for high achievement and performance among America's community colleges.

The institutions eligible to compete for the 2021 distinction were selected based on strong and improving student outcomes, including in learning, graduation rates, and employment rates.

This is the fifth time the Aspen Institute has considered Eastern Florida for the prize from more than 1,000 community colleges in the U.S.

Eastern Florida President Dr. Jim Richey said the colleges’ repeated nomination shows its commitment to high standards with more new programs offering student excellent careers.

He also noted EFSC’s high graduation rates, low tuition, and strong student support services as creating a winning combination.

“Thanks to our outstanding faculty and staff, students attending EFSC have a unique opportunity to learn and have great job prospects when they receive their degrees. That focus drives everything we do,” he said.

Data show that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the 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.”

The top 10 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 and Indian River State College, both in Florida, 2019; Lake Area Technical College, S.D., 2017; Santa Fe College, Fla., 2015; Santa Barbara City College, Calif., Walla Walla Community College, Wash., 2013; and Valencia College, Fla., 2011.