Six Washington colleges are eligible for the Aspen Prize, which is awarded every other year to the nation’s top community college.

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Six Washington community and technical colleges are in the running for the Aspen Prize, a $1 million, national award that recognizes two-year colleges that do the most to improve the lives of their students.

The six are: The Lake Washington Institute of Technology (Kirkland), Olympic College (Bremerton), Pierce College-Fort Steilacoom, Renton Technical College, South Puget Sound Community College (Olympia) and Whatcom Community College.

In all, 150 of the nation’s nearly 1,000 community colleges are eligible for the prize. Those schools were selected by Aspen using nationally available data on performance, improvement, and equity in student retention and completion.

The prize is awarded every two years by the private nonprofit Aspen Institute to highlight colleges that are doing a good job of making sure their students are graduating with strong skills and securing good jobs.


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In 2015, both Renton Tech and Olympic College made the final round, becoming two of the 10 finalists.

From the 150 eligible schools, the Aspen judges will once again select 10 finalists, and a winner will be chosen next year after the judges visit each one of them.

One Washington school, Walla Walla Community College, shared the national prize in 2013 with Santa Barbara City College in California.