A steady stream of Latino students was arriving on college campuses. Then the pandemic hit.

Published By
The Washington Post
Published On
January 31, 2021

Excerpt from the article:

The steady stream of Latino students arriving on college campuses in recent years has been a bright spot in higher education, but some worry the pandemic could threaten those gains.

Historic Latino student wave reshapes many colleges. But access is uneven.

The most recent enrollment data disaggregated by race showed a 5.4 percent drop in the head count of Latino undergraduates in the fall, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. What’s more, 26.4 percent fewer high school graduates from schools with a high percentage of Black and Latino students went straight to college this year compared with 2019.

Meanwhile, data about next year’s incoming class is mixed, with signs of promise but also areas of concern.

A Washington Post analysis of federal education data found staggering declines in the number of Latino students applying for financial aid to attend college in the fall — a critical step for those who are college-bound.

“The interest is there,” said Deborah A. Santiago, chief executive of the nonprofit advocacy group Excelencia in Education, “but the reality is we are still disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the trade offs are real.”

Minorities and lower-income Americans have contracted the coronavirus at higher rates and suffered higher levels of job losses. The financial disruption is forcing many Latino students to choose between their education and helping their families weather the recession.

“Because our adults tend to be blue-collar workers who have lost out in this economy having additional hands, all able-bodied folks working has become essential,” Santiago said. “Students are having to prioritize supporting their family — going to college is another way to do that, but the immediate need has superseded the longer term goal.”