Excelencia Policy Agenda

Excelencia’s Policy Agenda

Excelencia in Education
May 2024


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Good policy is informed by good practice. Excelencia in Education’s policy priorities are grounded in the strengths and needs of the Latino community and the evidence-based practices accelerating Latino student success in the current higher education context.

Policy must keep up with the evolving challenges and opportunities to serve all students, not just traditional students, and Latinos are representative of the majority of students—post-traditional students. Given the youth, growth, and educational attainment of our population, accelerating Latino students’ college degree attainment with a tactical policy strategy provides a clear opportunity for the country. The ability to serve students at scale requires knowledge of the Latino student profile and what works to accelerate Latino, and all, student success.


Who is Excelencia in Education?

Excelencia in Education’s mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education by:

  • Data: Providing credible data-driven analysis on issues in higher education with a Latino lens;
  • Practice: Promoting higher education policies and institutional practices that support Latinos’ academic achievement and that of other post-traditional students; and,
  • Leadership: Organizing a network of institutions and leaders with the common cause of Latino student success to inform and compel action. Excelencia’s leadership efforts include a network of over 190 Presidents for Latino Student Success (P4LSS), committed to Ensuring America’s Future by making our country stronger with the talents, skills, and contributions of Latino college graduates. In this network, 39 institutions are Seal-certified, going beyond enrollment to intentionally SERVE Latino students. Excelencia’s policy agenda focuses on scaling the work of these institutions in four priority areas.

Guiding Principles

The following frame is Excelencia’s approach to reassessing current federal policies using a Latino lens.

  • Efficiency in serving traditional students today can limit effectiveness in serving a majority of students tomorrow (post-traditional students), and those students are increasingly Latino.
  • Prioritizing access and success for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students—especially Latinos—is important while we increase educational opportunities for all students.
  • Institutions that have a concentration of Latinos must transform to intentionally serve the needs of the students they enroll.

Excelencia in Education’s Policy Priorities: 2024

Excelencia’s policy agenda advocates for accelerating Latino student success to close gaps in degree attainment based on the current profile of Latinos in higher education. Four policy issues were continually raised among leading institutions committed to supporting Latino student success: 1) affordability, 2) institutional capacity, 3) retention and transfer, and 4) workforce preparation.


To accelerate Latino student success, policymakers should invest in affordability, institutional capacity, retention and transfer, and workforce preparation strategies and practices.


Many Latino students adjust their attendance patterns to leverage financial aid insufficient to their needs. Recent economic challenges continue to make it harder to pay for college. The following would serve students broadly and would disproportionately benefit Latino students:

  • Reduce unmet financial need to pay for college by including basic needs in financial aid calculations.
  • Double the Pell Grant and make it a fully mandatory program.
  • Incentivize FAFSA completion to increase access to financial aid.
  • Revise the Federal Work-Study distribution formula to more strategically support students with high financial need, reduce administrative burdens to program participation, and increase funding for the program.

Institutional capacity

Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) enroll the majority of Latino students, yet are generally low-resourced and underfunded. The following recommendations would improve these institutions’ capacity to serve Latino students:

  • Count every student instead of using full-time equivalent (FTE) to determine eligibility for funding, and significantly increase financial support to institutions serving high numbers of students with financial need.
  • Provide guaranteed funding to all HSIs who meet the eligibility requirements for Title V grants.
  • Refocus and limit the allowable activities for Title III and V grants to better align with Latino student success.
  • Improve information about federal investment in HSIs by increasing transparency around grant outcomes.

Retention and transfer

Latino students represent a post-traditional profile, as do the majority of college students. However, many higher education policies prioritize a traditional college pathway - entering postsecondary education college-ready right after high school and graduating in four years from the institution where they first enrolled. The following recommendations address college pathways and priorities to retain Latino students:

  • Make transfer efforts an allowable activity in the Higher Education Act, Title V, Part A, Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program.
  • Update federal data to more accurately capture Latino students’ pathways and how federal funding impacts Latino student success.
  • Provide financial incentives to retain Latino students on their path to graduation.
  • Strengthen partnerships between higher education institutions and high school districts for high-quality dual enrollment programs.

Workforce preparation

Latinos are overrepresented in the workforce in jobs that are essential, vulnerable, and lower in pay. The following recommendations support Latino students’ successful transition to the workforce:

  • Leverage existing federal programs, such as Federal Work-Study, to support experiential learning opportunities for students.
  • Make workforce development an allowable activity for Title V grants to support institutions in creating workforce programs.
  • Incentivize engagement between employers and the institutions serving Latino students.


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