The Eye-Popping Surge of Latino-Serving Colleges, Universities


Latino Hispanic college student studying in a university library
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The number of Latino or Hispanic-serving colleges and universities has risen 98% in the past 10 years, from 264 in 2007 to 523 in 2018, according to a new report by Excelencia in Education.

A “Hispanic-Serving Institution” (HSI) has 25% or more undergraduate full-time equivalent Latino enrollment.

HSIs now constitute 17% of all colleges and universities.

The Key Data

Hispanic serving institutions Latino colleges universities
via Excelencia in Education
  • Two of three Latino undergraduates attend an HSI.
  • 46% of student enrollment at HSIs is Latino.
  • HSIs are present in 27 states and Puerto Rico. That’s up from 21 last year.
  • HSIs are very concentrated geographically. 69% were located in three states and Puerto Rico. California has the most, followed by Texas and New York.
  • Most HSIs are located in a city (273) or suburb (163). Fewer were in towns (49) or rural areas (38).
  • Most HSIs are public four-year colleges or universities (28% private and 25% public). The rest are public two-year institutions or other.
  • There are 328 “Emerging HSIs” with 15-24.9% Latino enrollment.

Implications of the Data

Choosing the right college does make a difference.

“Latinos make up 18% of the U.S. population but just 8.5% of students at selective institutions, the very places that have more resources to help students cross the finish line,” according to a report by the Education Trust. “Students who attend these colleges and universities are more likely to complete their degrees.”

This data is important given Latinos’ struggles in higher education.

Latino college students are far less likely than their white peers to complete their degree. They are more likely to still be enrolled beyond six years on their path to a degree.

Excelencia in Education keeps a “what works” database of programs that help Latinos.

They list Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training, led by Salud America! director Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez of UT Health San Antonio, as a program to watch.

Éxito! recruits 25 Latino students annually for a culturally tailored curriculum to promote pursuit of a doctoral degree and cancer research career.

“Institutions of higher education have an opportunity to combine data, practice, and leadership to accelerate Latino student success,” according to Excelencia in Education. “They ensure that Latino students graduate college and become agents of change for their communities and for the nation.”

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