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Hispanic Serving Institutions Increasing

Compiled By Yaffa Klugerman
February 8, 2010

hispanic studentA study has found that the number of institutions recognized by the federal government as "Hispanic serving" is about to climb dramatically.

The report was released by the Latino student advocacy group Excelencia in Education last week, and found that in 2006-7, 176 U.S. colleges and universities were on the brink of becoming Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). The federal government defines HSIs as public institutions where at least 25 percent of the full-time students are Latino, making those schools eligible for special funds from federal agencies. The "emerging" HSIs have 15 to 24 percent Hispanic enrollment.

The highest concentrations of emerging HSIs were found in California and Texas. But Deborah Santiago, the report's author and vice president for policy and research at Excelencia, was quoted as saying in Inside Higher Ed that the schools were not limited to "those places where we expect to see Latinos." Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Oregon and Utah, for example, were some of the states that had such institutions.

The majority of emerging HSIs--44 percent--were found to be public community colleges. Private colleges and universities made up 31 percent, public four-year institutions comprised 20 percent, and private two-year institutions represented 5 percent.

"Call me parochial here, but I found it surprising that so many private colleges are emerging HSIs," noted Luis Torres in Inside Higher Ed, the deputy provost for academic affairs at Metropolitan State College of Denver, an emerging HSI mentioned in the report. "When one thinks of a rather stereotypical view of Hispanics, it's that we are in the public colleges. I found it very surprising and telling and interesting. That gives us a lot of opportunities."

The report called on emerging HSIs to work towards increasing retention and graduation rates among Latino students. "In order to thrive, we must accelerate significantly the degree-completion rate of Latino students," wrote Sarita E. Brown, president of Excelencia.

The report also offered suggestions to HSIs to help serve Latino students better, including increasing the cultural competency of faculty to work effectively with Latino students, providing more need-based financial aid, and creating programs to engage Latino high school students and their families.

In a related story, the Associated Press [from an article originally located at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/07/AR2010020701764.html] reports that some mainstream universities are trying to attract more Hispanic students by offering Spanish translations of their admissions and financial aid material. Bryn Mawr College, for example, recently launched a Spanish version of its Web site, the University of Pennsylvania has begun to offer some college admissions sessions in Spanish, and Smith College and Wesleyan University both posted Spanish Web pages.

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