INA, Ill. (Jan. 26, 2016) – Rend Lake College has again made the list of the top 150 community colleges in the nation. The announcement, made yesterday by the Aspen Institute, comes with a challenge for the top colleges to compete for the $1 million 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

RLC and the other colleges on the list were measured on student success rates, which include first-year retention, three-year graduation, and credentials awarded. Only those who “have demonstrated strong outcomes considering three areas of student success” were chosen as the top 150 colleges during round one of the competition.

According to information from the Aspen Institute, RLC’s first-year retention rate of 57.8 measures higher than the average of all community colleges at 52.1. The 69.2 three-year graduation rate far exceeds the national average of 39.4. The college also outdid the national average – 35.2 – in credentials awarded per 100 students at 54.3.

This year marks the fourth time RLC has made the Aspen list since the competition began in 2011. The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is awarded every two years.

“Once again, it is great to have national recognition for the great work our faculty, staff, and students put in every day,” said RLC President Terry Wilkerson. “Rend Lake College has found a place on the Aspen Institute’s list four years in a row and it’s thanks to the diligence and persistence of our faculty and staff. To our students, thank you for helping us reach this landmark and we look forward to continuously providing you with the services a top 150 college is expected to do.”

Nearly half of America’s college students attend community college, with more than seven million students – youth and adult learners – working towards certificates and degrees in these institutions across the country, states information from the Aspen Institute.

“Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility in our country,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college.”

RLC is one of eight colleges in Illinois who received the same award. The Aspen Institute will announce 10 finalists after round two of the selection process, with the $1 million prize winner being announced in early 2017.

For more information about the Aspen Institute or for details on the selection process, visit

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