Indian River State College was named today as a top-ten national finalist for the prestigious Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, America’s most respected and selective recognition of high achievement among community colleges.
After a rigorous review of the College’s performance, IRSC was selected as one of ten Prize finalists from a pool of more than 1,000 colleges nationwide. This marks the second time IRSC has been selected as a top ten finalist for the $1 million prize.
“Our second consecutive selection as a top-ten finalist for the Aspen Prize is a tremendous honor, and one which reflects IRSC’s sustained commitment to student success,” said Dr. Edwin R.. Massey, IRSC President. “Reaching the final round of this competition brings national attention to our college and community, and more importantly, allows us to showcase an excellent model for delivering education that meets workforce and economic development needs.”
As part of the Prize process, the Aspen Institute assesses college achievement in student learning, certificate and degree completion, high rates of employment and earnings for graduates, and access and success for minority and low-income students.
“Indian River State College’s efforts to get and keep students on clear program pathways aligned with labor market needs serves as a model for community colleges across the country,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program in Washington, D.C. “IRSC students have access to advisors that guide them from their first day through graduation, helping them define goals, map the most direct routes to achieving them, and continually chart their progress.”
The Top-Ten announcement was made today at the River Rally, a celebratory event at the IRSC Main Campus. The event was shared with branch campuses through Facebook Live.
IRSC accomplishments contributing to the recognition include:
Learning and Degree Completion – The 2015-2016 class of 3,719 graduates was the largest in IRSC’s 56-year history, representing a 22% increase over last year.
Employment and Earnings – 94.1% of IRSC graduates find employment or continue their
education, typically earning more than twice the average entry wage in the four-county area
Affordability and Access – IRSC is designated as the 3rd Most Affordable College in the U.S. by the Department of Education, with no tuition increase in four years. 36% of students receive Pell Grants they don’t have to pay back and over $3 million in scholarships is awarded annually through local donations to the IRSC Foundation. The focus on access has resulted in increases in completion rates for Hispanic and African American students.
The $1 million prize will be awarded in March 2017 in Washington, D.C. to the winner and up to four finalists with distinction. Two Florida colleges, Indian River State College and Broward College have been named finalists for a second time. The 2017 Aspen Prize Finalists, listed in alphabetical order are:
Anoka-Ramsey Community College – Coon Rapids, MN
Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Chaffey College – Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL
Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD
Northeast Community College – Northeast, NE
Odessa College – Odessa, TX
Pasadena City College – Pasadena, CA
San Jacinto College – Pasadena, TX
West Kentucky Community and Technical College – Paducah, KY