New Data Shows Decrease in the Number of Hispanic-Serving Institutions for the First Time in 20 Years, but Significant Increase in Emerging HSIs

March 17, 2022


Excelencia in Education and HACU Jointly Release Updated List of Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Other Findings

Washington, D.C. – Excelencia in Education (Excelencia) and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) today jointly announce the release of the 2020-21 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) list.

This year, for the first time in 20 years, the numbers of HSIs have decreased. In 2020-21, there were 559 institutions that met the definition of an HSI, compared to 569 in 2019-20. This drop represents a decrease in the enrollment and concentration of Hispanic students in colleges and universities around the country.

“Latinos were projected, prior to the pandemic, to represent the largest growth in college enrollment,” said Deborah A. Santiago, Excelencia in Education CEO. “The decrease in Latino college enrollment has led to this decrease in the number of HSIs and creates an increased urgency for institutional intentionality and public investment in HSIs to rebuild the momentum for Latino students’ access and success in higher education.”

“Enrollment numbers from the pandemic’s first year reveal the severe impact COVID-19 has had on higher education institutions and students. While the number of Hispanic-Serving Institutions decreased, the rapid growth in the number of Emerging HSIs highlights the growing population of Hispanics who are pursuing higher education across the nation unlike any time before,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. “Most HSIs will remain seriously challenged by inadequate resources to recover and retool as they strive to serve the surge of Hispanics and other underserved populations in the years ahead; we hope Congress and the Administration will invest more equitably in HSIs to ensure their success.”

HSIs are defined in federal legislation as having 25% or more undergraduate Hispanic student full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment. In 2020-21, 18% of all institutions of higher education (559 HSIs) enrolled 66% of all Latino undergraduates.

In contrast, the number of Emerging HSIs (eHSIs)—colleges approaching the 25 percent Latino student enrollment threshold, showed significant growth from 362 to 393.

Important facts about HSIs to note:

  • HSIs represent less than 20% of institutions but enroll two-thirds of all Latino undergraduates.
  • When you put together the student population at all HSIs, 46 percent of students are Latino.
  • Almost 70% of HSIs are public and almost 60% are 4-year institutions.
  • A majority of HSIs are located in urban areas and are concentrated geographically, with the majority in California, Texas, Puerto Rico, and Florida.

For more than five years, Excelencia and HACU have worked in cooperation to identify the institutions that meet the definition of an HSI and inform the higher education community committed to ensuring Latino student success. Excelencia and HACU are implementing programs and conducting the research to inform ways to improve the success of Hispanic students.

About Excelencia in Education
Excelencia in Education accelerates Latino student success in higher education by promoting Latino student achievement, conducting analysis to inform educational policies, and advancing institutional practices while collaborating with those committed and ready to meet the mission. Launched in 2004 in the nation’s capital, Excelencia has established a network of results-oriented educators and policymakers to address the U.S. economy’s needs for a highly educated workforce and engaged civic leaders. For more information, visit: 

About HACU
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, founded in 1986, represents more than 500 colleges and universities in the United States, D.C, Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain, and school districts throughout the U.S. HACU is the only national association representing existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). The Association’s headquarters are in San Antonio, Texas, with regional offices in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, California. For more information, visit:



2024 Call for Nominations: Nominations are open from February1 to March 15