college

25 top 2-year public colleges in the US

Smart students entering college will look for the best value for their buck. Rather than begin their academic career in an expensive private school, they often enroll in a two-year public college before transferring to a four-year university. Others may decide on a career that doesn't require a degree from a conventional four-year institution. For instance, they may wish to learn a trade at a technical school.

Culling data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Bankrate ranked more than 900 two-year public colleges using six criteria: graduation rate; student retention rate; student-faculty ratio; in-state tuition and fees; percentage of full-time, first time undergrads getting financial aid; and the average amount of aid they received from various sources. We excluded schools that didn't report information on these six criteria to the NCES, as well as private institutions and schools with fewer than 100 full-time students. The data reflect full-time, first-time degree- or certificate-seeking students who entered college in fall 2008.

Following are the top 25 two-year public colleges based on this ranking.

Top 25 two-year public colleges

RankInstitution nameRetention rate, 2011 (percent)Graduation rate (percent)Number of students per instructorIn-state tuition and fees per yearPercentage of undergrads receiving financial aid*Average amount of grant aid received**
1East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program
Calif.
988714$3,700100$3,567
2Erwin Technical Center
Fla.
898512$2,88771$5,189
3Altamaha Technical College
Ga.
665912$2,10097$5,415
4Flint Hills Technical College
Kan.
776712$4,18090$5,248
5White Mountains Community College
N.H.
63427$7,69692$5,510
6Linn State Technical College
Mo.
775712$5,55095$6,072
7North Central Kansas Technical College
Kan.
658110$4,44183$4,287
8Charlotte Technical Center
Fla.
74557$3,38666$4,184
9Mayland Community College
N.C.
89479$2,24361$4,652
10Colby Community College
Kan.
685110$2,94497$4,181
11Lake Area Technical Institute
S.D.
826916$5,77694$4,972
12Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology
Pa.
644715$6,83080$10,267
13Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas
Ark.
53177$2,55097$5,401
14Dawson Community College
Mont.
635613$4,24595$6,139
15Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
N.C.
773413$2,25095$5,418
16Southeastern Technical College
Ga.
554112$2,49899$5,974
17Traviss Career Center
Fla.
30668$2,845100$2,840
18Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
Wis.
724110$3,57184$4,660
19Cleveland Community College
N.C.
634011$2,22283$5,268
20Imperial Valley College
Calif.
752829$1,03884$5,656
21Northwest Louisiana Technical College
La.
585821$1,49488$4,898
22Acadiana Technical College, Lafayette campus
La.
635216$1,47480$4,647
23Western Piedmont Community College
N.C.
602610$2,15586$5,831
24Southwest Georgia Technical College
Ga.
563613$2,04895$5,655
25Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
N.M.
432117$67580$4,490

*Undergrads are full-time, first-time students. ** Aid includes grants from federal, state, local and institutional sources.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics.

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