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Many prospective students make the mistake of only examining tuition costs. Tuition is, in fact, just a fraction of the total cost of college. To understand total cost of attendance, you must factor in institution fees, room and board, supplies, and textbooks. Luckily the U.S. DOE factors these expenses into their net price reports, in an effort to provide more transparency to prospective students.

However, the price tag isn’t everything. Graduation rates can be a telltale sign of a college’s quality and commitment to your success. Education can be worth very little if students do not complete their degree programs. The transfer percentages are critical, because they indicate how many graduates have left to pursue a bachelor’s degree at another institution.

Pursuing a college education can be one of the most pivotal and costly decisions of your life. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center, the national average net price of a 2-year college education at a public school rose 18% in just two years. Some 2-year college costs spiked up to $22,933 a year, while others were virtually cost-free due to high percentages of grant aid. Variability in cost is just one factor that influences the return-on-investment (ROI) for prospective college students. Our team at Best Colleges has put together a definitive list of the top 50 public 2-year colleges with the highest graduation rates and transfer rates.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Gordon Cooper Technology Center

  81.93%Shawnee, OK


Between graduation and transfer rates, GCTC boasts the highest success ranking, and it is likely due to the college's unique special services programs. Prospective students gain access to childcare services, assistive services for disabilities, and additional vocational training. According to their thorough guidance plan, enrolled students are directed to financial aid resources, tutoring avenues, and career-based activities throughout their academic career.

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New Mexico Military Institute

  34.96%Roswell, NM


This academic institution provides students with immersive military leadership training with JROTC programs for high school students and SROTC programs for college students earning their associate degrees. In addition to their academic workload, cadets work together to complete physical training, mentor other students, and learn safety protocols.

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Knox County Career Center

  N/AMount Vernon, OH


Adult learners will find a wealth of information and support services at KCCC, helping them plan out their upcoming courses and career search after graduation. The Career Counseling center can assist you with resume writing, interview practice, and job listing navigation. Digital resources give students even more incentive to complete their academic programs, with databases of free educational software, tech tutorials, and access to an internal helpdesk.

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Ridge Career Center

  91.46%Winter Haven, FL


Student participation, self-governance, and comprehensive digital resources may be the cornerstones to RCC's graduation success. An 18-person Student Advisory Council staff is there to help you through the completion of professional certificate programs, which are offered during the day, evening, or online for maximum flexibility. Online and mixed-format learners can find supplemental education resources through the library's media program.

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Charles A. Jones Career and Education Center

  96.89%Sacramento, CA


This vocational training and career preparation institute has a long-standing history, founded in 1967 to accommodate adult learners with diverse learning styles. The education center is committed to guiding class participants from day one, with an orientation meeting that includes career skill assessments, a program overview, and counseling in your chosen field.

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Marion County Community Technical and Adult Education Center

  63.57%Ocala, FL

CTAE has many services that cater to adult learners with children, helping parents earn their professional certificates with several childcare options. The Young Parent Program goes above and beyond most academic child care options, providing pregnant and new parents with nutrition and health education, along with childrearing training. Students who have children old enough to be in school can explore extended school day options, giving adults more time to take courses while their children are being monitored by education professionals.

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Great Plains Technology Center

  86.38%Lawton, OK

This institution does not shy away from posting their annual graduation metrics, which is a testament to their relatively high success rate. Their extensive resource services department provides enrolled students with help at every turn, addressing accessibility, financial aid, clubs, academic counseling, and career advising. This education center also provides noteworthy assistance to veterans with specially funded full-time and short-term training programs.

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Indian Capital Technology Center


This technical institute places an emphasis on business-oriented training, offering programs on small business finance, government contracting, accounting, and business software. Like the Great Planes Technology Center, ICTC also offers compelling student services, such as inter-campus transportation options and counseling services.

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Washington County Career Center-Adult Technical Training


State government officials paved the way for this professional training institute back in 1963, committing to serve adult learners within the Ohio Appalachian region and nearby school districts. The Career Center provides students with many distinct online services, including access to Microsoft Office 365 tools for assignment completion, on-campus lunch service options, and economic independence training for young parents.

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Manatee Technical Institute


This academic institution has received countless national, state, and regional awards from organizations like Skills USA and the HOSA Future Health Professionals student organization. MTI boasts a 91% job placement rate, and regularly posts new career opportunities on their local listing board. Unlike some state-funded professional training centers, MTI has developed strong inroads with nearby businesses and industry partners, such as the Suncoast Workforce.

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Withlacoochee Technical Institute


WTI offers professional certification programs both on-campus and online, accommodating students who have non-traditional schedules due to work and family commitments. WTI also offers extended day care options, giving parents more time to focus on their studies. The school's transition academy helps students get ready for the demands of a professional workflow through community service and occupational training.

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Arkansas State University

 2/539.3%Jonesboro, AR

Students can enroll in a diverse range of associate degree programs at ASU, from business management to funeral science and allied health specialties. This college fosters a strong tradition of financial aid support and scholarship encouragement, posting students' historical success with academic funding. This school's gainful employment statistics are very clear, making it easy for prospective students to learn about their future career options.

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EHOVE Career Center


Students pursuing professional certificates at EHOVE gain access to services like ABEL math tutoring and a basic skills lab. This career training center encourages success and academic via dropout prevention services and discount learning options for seniors. Various career departments have branched out into the local community to provide public functions such as salon services, massage therapy, and food service.

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Downey Adult School


DAS was founded in 1940, making it one of the longest-established technical schools on this list. This institution is savvy to current job search methodologies, encouraging students to use tools like LinkedIn to cultivate an online resume presence and network with potential employers. This school's counseling department provides assistance for students at various points in their academics, covering career skill testing, GED and high school diplomas, scholarships, and community service.

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Southern Arkansas University Tech


Students can earn their professional certification or associate degrees from SAU Tech, a school that is esteemed for its community service and outreach programs. The Career Academy is an organization that catches prospective students while they are still in high school, providing them with career and higher education advice in order to make their move to a two-year program smoother. Other unique programs, such as the entrepreneurship center, helps motivated individuals plan for a future in business, with an emphasis on marketing, customer service, and finance.

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Woodland Community College


This college might have the most comprehensive student service options out of all the organizations listed here, with nearly 20 different sub-divisions dedicated to academic success. The C.A.R.E. department is committed to student retention. The childhood development center provides a safe space for the children of adult learners. There are several counseling departments that handle issues, such as student grievances, disability needs, financial aid, veteran benefits, and transferring to four-year universities.

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Traviss Career Center


The School Improvement Plan reports are a point of immediate interest for prospective Traviss Career Center students, displaying hard statistics about the annual completion rates for each training program, along with accreditation statuses. Unlike many career centers, TCC has a dedicated newsletter highlighting campus and industry news.

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De Anza College


This international academic institution is based on a sprawling 112-acre campus located in the backyard of Apple's corporate presence. De Anza sets itself apart from other colleges through its advocacy for diverse student populations, including counseling for undocumented immigrant high school graduates and first generation prospective students. Other counseling services cover psychological stress support, disability needs, and veteran benefit programs.

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Pierce College – Puyallup

  29.56%Puyallup, WA

Pierce College is well known for its intriguing science dome facility, a massive digital planetarium that seats nearly 60 people. Technology like this can be a major boon for prospective students entering scientific fields. Pierce cultivates a culture of collegiate level learning early by offering high school students the opportunity to participate in a Running Start program, allowing youth in 11th and 12nd grade to earn college credits.

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George Stone Technical Center


GSTC offers career training and certification in the fields of business, IT, health, industrial science, criminal justice, and public service both online and on campus. One of the most distinguished departments is the criminal justice center, which prepares students for various roles in law enforcement, corrections facilities, and crisis intervention.

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Charlotte Technical Center


The CTC provides adult learners with online and campus-based professional training options in trades such as commercial food services, computer science, and early childhood education. Like other career-centric centers mentioned here, CTC has branched out to form partnerships with various industry organizations, such as the Englewood Fire Department, Charlotte Desoto Building Industry Association, and the Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity.

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Foothill College

  55.69%Los Altos Hills, CA

This community college was founded in 1957, and has since grown to encompass 79 associate degree programs and 107 professional certificate programs. One of the most remarkable things about this institution is its well-rounded athletic program, which most 2-year college and career centers do not provide. The Foothill Owls compete in basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis, and other activities.

Quick Facts

  • The college also runs six 'certificate of achievement' programs, four career certificates and 9 certificates of proficiency ― all online.
  • Foothill provides both newly enrolled and prospective students with a detailed orientation to the platform and online learning in general.
  • Although courses may be entirely online, Foothill does note that some exams may be required in-person at the Foothill campus or a proctored location.
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North Central Kansas Technical College


NCK Tech has dozens of student activity options, ideal for prospective learners who enjoy a strong sense of community and college identity. While students earn their professional certificates and associate degrees, they can get involved with intramural sports, student senate events, recreational activities, and community service efforts. Another interesting facet of NCK Tech is it's non-profit foundation, which funnels donor contributions back to the students via scholarship programs.

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Metro Technology Centers


MTC takes a strong digital approach to connecting students with potential employers by leveraging two types of online job boards: one for student seeking employment and another for companies trying to hire MTC students. The Jobline office helps students with interviews and resumes, so they will be prepared to find work toward the end of their professional certificate programs. Additionally, the MTC campus is the home to a massive 4,620 square foot conference center, where student can gather for career fairs, tradeshows, and other educational events.

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Lake Area Technical Institute

  73.23%Watertown, SD

This community college has earned the distinction of being one of the top 2-year learning institutions in the U.S., according to the Aspen Institute. This school has also earned awards for being a military friendly school and one of the best colleges to work for. LATI places an emphasis on corporate business education, with programs in employee training, manufacturing, and computing.

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Brewster Technical Center


This academic institution has made a name for itself by offering career training designed specifically for adults with disabilities, covering fields like custodial maintenance, merchandise handling, and culinary preparation. The student services department specializes in career development aid, counseling students on their upcoming job search.

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Washington-Holmes Technical Center


This technical and career training institution has established crossover specializations, which allow students to explore two fields within a single program. The crossover law/corrections track places an emphasis on criminal justice methodologies as they pertain to Florida state laws.

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Lake Technical Center


Students can explore 26 different professional certificate programs at LTC, in industries such as business administration, manufacturing, and distribution logistics. Students who need academic and career counseling can visit the Adult Applied Academic Education Lab in order to access advising and tutoring sessions.

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Collins Career Center


CCC is a tight-knit professional training institution that offers certificate programs in health, cosmetology, law enforcement, and trade industries. Their student services center provides enrolled students with access to social workers and agency counselors, who can address a variety of personal, professional, and academic needs.

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Rend Lake College

  52.3%Ina, IL

Prospective students eager to begin their undergraduate studies or professional training right away should explore Rend Lake College, since they have a rolling open admission system. One of the unique characteristics of this community college is that they offer study abroad options in countries like Jamaica, Costa Rica, Austria, and England. RLC is dedicated to cultivating arts and culture on campus, posting calendars of upcoming theatre productions, art auctions, and music performances on a seasonal basis.

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Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology


This trade and technical school completed a major renovation project in 2010, so prospective students can look forward to completely revamped computer labs, cafeterias, conference rooms, and learning spaces. Students get the opportunity to practice their skills on campus by offering public services such as massage, auto repair, business training, salon, and computer repair. Lorenzo Walker also has a remarkable refugee services program, providing counseling, job training, and employment referrals to qualifying students.

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Alexandria Technical & Community College

  58.27%Alexandria, MN

Like the Running Start program at Pierce College, Alexandria Technical and Community College has Post Secondary Enrollment Options, giving high school students the opportunity to gain college credits early. ATCC also has support services that focus on specific academic skill sets, giving learners assistance on study habits, test taking, and test anxiety reduction.

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Sampson Community College


SCC has an open door admissions policy, encouraging all applicants to immerse themselves in an associate degree program or professional training. The student services department is committed to students' academic success, with employees focusing on counseling, tutoring resources, and disability services. This school offers classes both online and on-campus.

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Ranger College


Like schools mentioned earlier, Ranger College also has accelerated learning programs designed to help local high school students earn college credits. The goal of having these eventual associate degree students transfer to four-year colleges in the future. In addition to the diverse range of associate programs and professional training options, students can also take part in Ranger sports, such as baseball, basketball, and soccer.

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Southwestern Community College

  29.41%Sylva, NC

The student support services department at SCC drives a careful blend of resources, services, and career development options. This campus is also home to a wide range of student clubs and activities, such as an electronics club, journalism club, and the paralegal club. Prospective students can get a glimpse of student life online by checking out the live campus webcam feeds.

Quick Facts

  • Prospective applicants are required to have a GED or high school diploma.
  • For those students looking to further their education, the credits in the AS program are transferable; all 16 of the public universities and 50 of the private colleges/universities in North Carolina accept SCC’s AS credits.
  • Blackboard, WebAdvisor and email are used for communication with instructors and classmates and for course participation. SCC provides Student Blackboard Training for those individuals unfamiliar with online Learning Management Systems.
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Itasca Community College


ICC is a small college offering just 17 associate degrees programs, including ones in natural resources, pulp and power, and power generation. There are numerous ways students can get involved on campus, with an international honors society, athletic teams, and student leadership clubs to join. ICC places a very strong emphasis on support services, with programs like Support within Reach to address domestic and sexual violence and a Behavioral Intervention Team dedicated to crisis response.

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Northwest Iowa Community College

  53.91%Sheldon, IA

Prospective NWICC students gain access to a breadth of support via the school's TRiO program, which includes personal counseling, career planning, tutoring, cultural activities, workshops, and exclusive grant awards. Unlike many 2-year colleges described earlier, this school has on-campus housing, offered in apartment and suite styles. NWICC has committed itself to supporting diverse applicants with funding options and an open admission policy.

Quick Facts

  • Northwest Iowa Community College belongs to the Iowa Community College Online Consortium, a directory of online programs and coursework offered in schools throughout Iowa, which means students can take courses beyond the scope of the school.
  • The site maintains demo courses and a self-quiz for prospective online students.
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Miles Community College

  38.39%Miles City, MT

This academic institution places an emphasis on community outreach, with dual credit partnerships at local high schools, personal enrichment courses, and a Relay for Life fundraiser. MCC also has a strong support system for disabled faculty, staff, and students. Students can enroll in both campus-based and distance learning programs at this school.

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Western Wyoming Community College

  52.6%Rock Springs, WY

This school has 48 two-year transfer programs, which probably accounts for the high transfer rate from WWCC. Learners can take courses both online and in traditional classroom settings. This school has built strong relationships with multiple community organizations, including Star Transit, the WWC Foundation, and the Green River Center.

Quick Facts

  • WWCC's online students have access to WyCLASS, a directory of all distance courses currently offered across Wyoming ― many of which WWCC students can opt to enroll in.
  • The school dedicates a bundle of resources to online students, including IT support, portfolio services, research tools and many general manuals about how to experience online learning.
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D G Erwin Technical Center


This professional training institution has many education options tailored to students with disabilities. Their hearing impairment department was founded in 1986, giving student access to assistive technologies, note taking, and telecommunication devices for the deaf. In addition to these options, the technical center offers full-time career and academic counseling for all students.

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Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

  61.85%Lancaster, PA

This two-year college boasts a job placement rate of 96% amongst graduates. Career-oriented learners can find support through the TSCT Office of Academic and Personal Counseling, which provides assistance with issues like stress and alcohol abuse. Like NWICC, this college also offers on-campus living options, with a residence hall that houses about 400 students.

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Cowley County Community College

  32.76%Arkansas City, KS

This academic institution is the home of the Cowley Tigers sports teams, whose fans are distinguished by bright orange uniforms. In addition to fostering a high level of school pride, this college organizes dozens of social gatherings, such as pool tournaments, free movie nights, tug of war challenges, and blitz ball challenges. Students looking to make friends and build connections in a traditional campus environment might want to consider Cowley.

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Schoolcraft College


While this college has low graduation rates, the school's high transfer rates are a testament to Schoolcraft's credit transfer options, which allow students to earn an associate's degree before moving to a 4-year institution. This college has a well-rounded student service program, helping learners with transfer planning, veteran college funding, international studies, academic advising, and disability support. Another unique aspect of this college is that it offers multiple types of prospective student tours, including culinary, campus, group, and departmental tours.

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Ellsworth Community College


ECC has been featured on CNN Money for its high combined graduation and transfer rates. This college offers on-campus and distance learning options for students exploring their associate degree and professional training programs. ECC takes a communal approach to student services, with locations like The Hub encouraging group tutoring support and homework help labs.

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