Headlines and studies continuously reference the increasing Latino population—and representation in higher education is no exception. Latinos in higher education are concentrated in several key states: California, Texas, Florida and New York. However, Latino enrollment numbers are also increasing in states not generally known for having large Latino populations, such as Indiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

As a result of these population increases, higher education planning is critical to address the education needs of the country.

Locating schools

The majority of Latino students are enrolled in a small number of institutions, known as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). These institutions can be two-year or four-year, public or private, not-for-profit institutions.

"Just 23 percent of Latino adults have an Associate’s degree or higher, significantly lower than all other groups."

There are currently 409 HSIs located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and they enroll 60 percent of all Latino undergraduate students.

Two characteristics that have been identified to play a key role in attracting Latino students to HSIs are their relatively inexpensive tuition and their proximity to students’ homes.

Better than GED

Although HSIs provide increased access to higher education for Latinos, we must also continue to focus on increasing the numbers of Latinos completing higher education credentials. Just 23 percent of Latino adults have an Associate’s degree or higher, significantly lower than all other groups.

Here are some ways to help increase these numbers:

  • Financial aid — Latinos students are more likely to be low-income and work off-campus while attending school, resulting in longer time to completing a degree. Increasing the amounts of grants and scholarships available for students can help students continue and complete their programs at a quicker pace.

  • Student and parent orientation — Since the majority of Latinos enrolled in college are the first in their family to attend, these programs help provide students and their families information on what is expected to succeed in college

  • Engage the student voice — Institutions can develop approaches that acknowledge the realities of the students they are serving by engaging them in the decision-making process.

Together we can increase Latino college completion and in doing so create a stronger community, workforce and civic leadership.