Northern Minnesota community college is the best in the state, new ranking says


Minnesota's community college options are, overall, slightly above average compared to the rest of the country – but one greater Minnesota school stands out among the state's pack.

WalletHub's ranking of the best and worst community colleges – broken down both by state and by each community college – places Minnesota 20th overall.

It notes state lawmakers approved a program that allows some Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) students the opportunity to have tuition fully covered by a grant, as part of a pilot program. There are a number of strings – it has to be in an "in demand" field and part of a two-year program, and students have to keep their GPA above 2.5 (click here to read the full text.)

When broken down further, looking at each community college individually, only one in Minnesota ranked in WalletHub's top 100: Itasca Community College.

The Grand Rapids college – which offers programs in forest resources, wildland firefighting, business, accounting, American Indian studies and more – came in at No. 80. The ranking looks at four areas: cost and financing, classroom experience, education outcomes and career outcomes.

Itasca Community College scored well in a couple areas.

The "classroom experience," which evaluates hands-on and active learning opportunities, student-faculty ratio, difficulty of courses, and more, ranking 36th; and also "education outcomes," measuring things such as graduation rate and retention, in which the college ranked 28th.

ICC, as it's often shortened to, has consistently been mentioned as a quality Minnesota performer before. It came in 23rd on a list of top community colleges from The Best Schools website. (Saint Paul College was ninth, and three other schools were in the top 50.)

Itasca was also the second-highest rated Minnesota school on a CNN Money list, just behind Alexandria Technical and Community College.

In total, WalletHub ranked 670 community colleges. Minnesota schools appear 31 times, with the lowest being Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College at No. 618.

The top five according to WalletHub, after Itasca Community College:

  • 110 – Northwest Technical College
  • 128 – St. Cloud Technical and Community College
  • 140 – Vermilion Community College
  • 141 – Ridgewater College
  • 146 – Alexandria Technical and Community College

U.S. News and World Report has a searchable database of all Minnesota community colleges, giving the estimated total enrollment plus tuition and fees.

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