More Latino students than ever are trying to get their degree, but it’s fraught and costly

Published By
Yahoo News
Published On
September 30, 2021

The USA TODAY Network launched a series on the Latino community in the U.S. called Hecho en USA, or made in America. Roughly 80% of all Latinos living in the U.S. are American citizens. But media coverage of Hispanics tends to focus on immigration and crime, instead of how Latino families live, work and learn in their hometowns. Hecho en USA tells the stories of the nation’s 59.9 million Latinos – a growing economic and cultural force, many of whom are increasingly born in the United States.

Excerpt Below:

Pushed by their parents and educators, more Hispanics than ever are attending college in the hopes of securing their place in the U.S. middle class, presenting a growing challenge for institutions that in the past have catered to mostly white students. As they navigate challenges such as the bureaucracy of higher education and paying tuition in an environment where so few teachers, administrators and students look like them, many Latino students say they are worried higher education institutions are happily taking their money without making sure their specific needs are being met.

The number of Hispanic students enrolled in college rose from 3.17 million in 2016 to 3.27 million in 2017, making them only one of two demographic groups that saw an increase in college attendance, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s nearly double the 1.4 million Latino students who attended college in 2000.

Meanwhile, college enrollment overall has been on the decline for years. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, there were 19.2 million students enrolled on campuses for the fall 2015 semester. Earlier in 2019, enrollment had dropped to 17.5 million.

It used to be that colleges had a large pool of students to draw from. The retention rates among Hispanic students, however, were “less than optimal,” said Deborah Santiago , one of the co-founders of Excelencia in Education, an advocacy group focused on Latino students. But neglecting Hispanic students is bad business these days, she said.

“You can’t just enroll them if you’re not going to help them graduate,” Santiago said. “The only growth population is Hispanics. So we’re saying you have got to focus on what it means to serve.”