Institutions Stepping Up to Serve Hispanic Students

Published By
Diverse Issues in Higher Education
Published On
October 3, 2019

As colleges and universities work to reach enrollment and college completion goals, increased focus has turned to the Hispanic populations in their communities.

Earlier this year, Dalton State College became the first institution in the state of Georgia to receive o­fficial status as a Hispanic serving institution (HSI). While Texas and Florida have numerous HSIs, Dalton State is a rarity in the Southeast.

In order to apply to the U.S. Department of Education for HSI designation, a college or university must be an accredited, degree-granting institution with at least 25 percent full-time-equivalent undergraduate Hispanic enrollment. Introduced in 1995 with 189 institutions, HSIs presently number 523 across the U.S., and such institutions are eligible to receive federal funds to further their educational mission.

Colleges and universities eager to recruit students can look at the K-12 student population to see potential students, says Dr. Deborah A. Santiago, CEO of Excelencia in Education.

“The education pipeline is going to be full of Latinos because we’re young and fast-growing,” says Santiago.

Exploring potential students

Santiago says many institutions are taking a look at what the Latino populations look like in their communities and are seeking out community-based organizations to learn more and make valuable connections.

“Get educated about the Latino community where you are and be informed with data, because that’s what’s going to compel decision-makers and those that have money to invest,” says Santiago. “Identify community-based organizations and those trusted in the community. Partner with them to make sure you’re an effective pipeline.”

For the past decade, Excelencia has published an annual list of “Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions” that looks at schools with between 15 percent and 24.94 percent Hispanic student populations. On the 2017-18 list, there is one such institution each in Arkansas and Louisiana, two each in Georgia, Oklahoma and Virginia and six in North Carolina.