HSIs: 101

For many, HSIs is a relatively new construct for institutions. This section provides a quick introduction to these institutions.

HSIs are defined in federal law (the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), Title V, 2008) as accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institutions of higher education with 25% or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment. Given the annual changes in college enrollment, the numbers of HSIs changes every year.

There is currently no federal definition for “Emerging HSIs,” but Excelencia in Education identifies emerging HSIs as institutions with an undergraduate FTE Hispanic enrollment between 15 and 24 percent. While emerging HSIs do not have the critical mass of Latino student enrollment required to meet the definition of an HSI, these institutions may soon meet the criteria as their enrollment grows and Latino representation increases.

The Higher Education Act, Title V, Part B authorizes the “Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHA) Program” to expand postbaccalaureate educational opportunities for, and improve the academic attainment of, Hispanic and other low-income students. These institutions are those that meet the federal definition of an HSI, but also offer graduate programs.

Tracking HSIs’ origins and funding to the present in succinct timelines.

The federal government does not release an annual list of HSIs for public use. In the absence of an official federal list of HSIs published by the U.S. Department of Education, researchers should use the Title V definition of HSIs when developing a list of HSIs for analysis. However, there are diverse lists that may contradict or confuse findings from research by those who create and use their own list of HSIs that do not follow the federal definition in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEA) – the only federal definition of HSIs that exists.