Eastern Florida State College is in the running for the prestigious Aspen Prize that is awarded to the top community college in the nation. The nomination comes from the Aspen Institute that named EFSC among 150 colleges eligible for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and the $1 million award that goes with it. The prize, awarded every two years, is considered the nation’s highest achievement for community college performance and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas:Student learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and access and success for minority and low-income students.

“There are exceptional community colleges across our country providing students with a high-quality, affordable education that leads to good careers and strong economic opportunity,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Through this competition, we’re working to inspire community colleges and help them understand how to ensure that more students succeed.”

Eastern Florida President Dr. Jim Richey said the nomination illustrates the college’s high standards as it continues offering new programs that lead to student success and excellent careers. He noted EFSC has among the highest graduation rates in the 28-member Florida College System and among the lowest tuition in the nation, a combination that creates opportunities that students are seizing. “Everything we do is about giving students the education and support they need to graduate and become highly productive in today’s best career fields,” he said. “Thanks to our dedicated faculty and staff, Eastern Florida is a special place for students to study, learn and grow.”

This is the third time the Aspen Institute has considered Eastern Florida for the prize from more than 1,000 community colleges in the U.S. The college was previously selected as among 150 contenders in 2012 and 2014.

The Aspen Institute will announce finalists for the prize this fall and the winner in early 2017. The Aspen Institute is a non-partisan educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC with campuses in Aspen, Colorado and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.