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The Keystone oil pipeline spills big time in South Dakota; a look at the GOP tax plan and it’s impact on the most vulnerable Americans; and renewed hope for Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters national monument.

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Tiny Central MN Tribal College Ranks #1 in Nation

Leech Lake Tribal College ranks among the top community colleges on multiple national lists, including a new one out this month. (Courtesy Leech Lake Tribal College)
Leech Lake Tribal College ranks among the top community colleges on multiple national lists, including a new one out this month. (Courtesy Leech Lake Tribal College)
August 25, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A personal finance website ranks Minnesota's Leech Lake Tribal College in Cass Lake the number one community college in the nation for overall quality.

WalletHub looked at price, faculty-student ratio and graduation rates among other factors in its rankings of 728 schools.

In Minnesota, most community colleges, including Leech Lake, cost a little more than $5,000 a year for full-time students.

Pat Broker, Leech Lake's interim president, says the school stands out because of its "family feel" – its ability to be both a safe haven and a launching pad for students.

"They can come and build strong relationships in this very stimulating environment, whereby we present a number of opportunities for them to explore as they make decisions about their life on into the future," she states.

The college was established by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and has campuses in Cass Lake and Red Lake.

Broker says although the school is rooted in Anishinaabe values, almost 10 percent of Leech Lake's 350 students are not Native American.

Cecilia Damian, a student at Inver Hills Community College and vice-president of LeadMN, the official student voice of the Minnesota state colleges, says while it's nice to see a top ranking for any school in the state, students don't pay much attention to rankings.

"We're looking for the school that has what our degree is in, especially the location – which one is the most accessible to us,” she states. “And then the biggest is affordability, and how much we will have to pay."

Damian says if community colleges want to improve, they should focus on meeting the needs of students with jobs and families who have a wide range of both needs and skills. She says more than 120,000 students attend community colleges across the state.

Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN