Aspen Institute Names SAC as a Top 150 U.S. Community College

November 5, 2019

SAC Marketing & Strategic Communications

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named San Antonio College (SAC) as one of 150 community colleges 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 and improving in student outcomes—including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity—15 percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize.

“San Antonio College is once again honored to be recognized as one of the best community colleges in the nation,” said SAC President Dr. Robert Vela. “SAC is on a constant path to answer the question ‘how can we best enable our students to succeed?’ With award winning academic programs, a student advocacy center and the Victory Center veterans program, SAC continues to pursue innovative solutions.” 

In addition to San Antonio College, two other colleges in the Alamo Colleges District were also included in the list. Both Northwest Vista College and Palo Alto College were named as Top 150 Community Colleges eligible for the  2021 Aspen Prize.  

The 150 community colleges 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.

“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.

For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit

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.

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

San Antonio College (SAC), part of the Alamo Colleges District, is among the largest, single-campus community colleges in Texas and the nation. SAC has been designated as an official Hispanic Serving Institution and also serves the largest student veteran population in Texas. It is one of 93 schools to earn a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Founded in 1925, SAC offers courses in the Arts and Sciences and Professional/Technical Fields. SAC is also a leader in the field of online education.