LCCC Named as one of Top 150 Community Colleges by Aspen Institute


Press Release
Posted November 5, 2019


Today, the Aspen Institute announced that Lorain County Community College (LCCC) is an Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College. “This designation by the prestigious Aspen Institute is quite an honor, and a true indicator of LCCC’s continued commitment and progress toward student success,” said LCCC President Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D.

As one of the 150 top community colleges, LCCC is eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges.

Based on strong performance and continued improvements in student outcomes — including graduation rates, employment rates, earnings, and equity — 15 percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize – and LCCC is just one of three Ohio community colleges to be among those contenders. The other two Ohio colleges named are Cuyahoga County Community College and Ohio State University’s Newark Campus.   “LCCC has made student success, that means success in academics and in careers, a top priority.  We have redesigned programs and systems to best meet the needs of our students today, while building a highly skilled workforce to meet the needs of employers and drive our economy,” Ballinger said. 

The 150 community colleges named today are eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize and were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. Located in 39 states in urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students, these colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector.

Data show that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges. Locally, Lorain County Community College has seen a 93 percent increase in the number of degrees and certificates awarded since 2011. 

LCCC’s recently adopted new strategic plan Vision 2025, sets a bold target for another 10,000 degrees awarded by 2025. This number of additional degrees will raise education and skill levels meeting employers’ workforce needs within high growth sectors of information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and others.

“This is an extraordinary recognition of the College’s focus on providing this community with access to high quality, affordable education that aligns with careers and jobs in growing sectors.  We’ve made great progress, but in this rapidly changing economy we have more work to do,” said Ballinger. 

Research conducted by The Institute for the Future Research (IFTF) forecasts that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in the year 2030 have yet to be invented.  The Lumina Foundation’s A Strong Nation projects that in the next five years 65 percent of all jobs in Ohio will require an industry certification, associate degree or bachelor’s degree.  Lorain County’s educational attainment currently stands at 36 percent.

“We celebrate the recognition this honor from the Aspen Institute provides and will use it to encourage us to keep driving forward; to work with our employers to identify the jobs of the future and do all we can to best prepare our students,” said Ballinger.

LCCC is also eligible to apply for a second important Aspen program:  The Excellence and Equity in Community College STEM Award.  In 2018, Lorain County Community College became the first community college in Ohio authorized to deliver its own Applied Bachelor’s Degree in Microelectronic Manufacturing.  The degree program is designed as a true earn and learn model working with over 26 regional employers and embedding a paid internship into the program.  The bachelor’s degree program is the best value for a four-year degree in Ohio at a total cost of $15,000, while students will earn a minimum of $18,000 or more during their internship experience. 

“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students—through graduation and beyond.”

The top ten finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.  This Aspen recognition follows LCCC being recognized in by the American Association of Community College as the 2018 Top Community College for Excellence in Student Success.



The Aspen Prize is generously funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit and and follow @AspenHigherEd on Twitter.

The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

Lorain County Community College
Established in 1963, Lorain County Community College is the first community college in Ohio with a permanent campus.  For more than five decades, LCCC has served the diverse needs of the greater Lorain County region by providing affordable access to higher education and now serves approximately 11,000 students each year at the associate degree level, 3,000 through its innovative University Partnership and thousands more in workforce development programs partnering with area employers.  LCCC’s College Credit Plus program is a leader in the state with 43% of 2019 Lorain County high school graduates earning some college credit from LCCC upon high school graduation, saving families $5.5 million in college costs.  LCCC is also the first community college in Ohio to be authorized to deliver an Applied Bachelor’s Degree in Microelectronic Manufacturing.  In 2018, the American Association of Community Colleges recognized LCCC as the Top Community College for Excellence in Student Success.