The country's best two-year degree for your dollar is available at Leech Lake Tribal College, a new analysis of more than 700 schools determined.
WalletHub looked at 14 indicators to rank all 728 schools in the study released Monday. Leech Lake topped all others in the Cost and Financing category, earning especially high marks for its per-pupil spending.
Other reasons for the high ranking were the relatively low cost of in-state tuition and fees, average student aid available through scholarships and grants, and the efficiency of school spending.
The personal finance website also ranked all the states by the strength of their community college systems, putting Minnesota eighth.
Two-year colleges getting a higher profile
At a time when tuition keeps climbing at four-year universities, WalletHub says two-year schools are a perfect solution for people who want some higher education without taking on big debt.
Two-year schools also usually have smaller class sizes and flexible schedules that help students who also have jobs and families.
Locally, the Minnesota State system – which includes 30 two-year colleges and seven state universities – educates 80 percent of Minnesota's workforce, according to the president of North Hennepin Community College.
About Leech Lake Tribal College
The main campus is in Cass Lake, which is not far from Bemidji, and now there is also a Red Lake campus.
Overall, the college has 60 faculty and staff with about 350 students – and 95 percent of them are American Indian. The college says its philosophy follows the tribe's Seven Grandfather Teachings: honesty, truth, humility, love, wisdom, courage, and respect.
In the 2013-14 school year, tuition and fees were $4,580, U.S. News reports.
This spring, Bemidji State University announced it will automatically enroll students from Leech Lake and three other tribal colleges with no enrollment fee.
Seeing one of its schools ranking best in the nation is a plum for the tribal college system. Just a few years ago, The Atlantic reported that high costs and low outcomes were leading to discussions about whether tribal colleges should even exist.