What the data on Hispanic-Serving Institutions do and don’t tell us

What are HSIs?

HSIs are defined 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. For more than 16 years, Excelencia in Education has highlighted the opportunities to support Latino students and where they enroll. A critical group of institutions enrolling and graduating Latino students are HSIs.

What do the data tell us about 2019–20 HSIs?

The number of HSIs increased in the past year, and Latino student undergraduate enrollment remains concentrated at HSIs. This growing set of institutions represents less than a fifth of all higher education institutions but enroll two-thirds of all Latino students. In 2019–20, 569 institutions met the HSI enrollment definition, up from 539 in 2018–19. This brought the percentage of institutions represented up from 17% to 18%.

What do the data not tell us?

These data are from Fall 2019, the latest data available and thus do not capture the effects of the pandemic on student enrollment. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, Latinos enrollment increased in Fall 2019 but dropped 5.4% in Fall 2020 compared to the previous year. These enrollment drops could have an impact on the number of HSIs in 2020–21.

What can policymakers do to support the institutional role in Latino college completion?

Policymakers can support policies that double down on access, given the drop of Latino students, while also investing in the institutional capacity to provide a quality education, given the concentrated enrollment of Latinos. Two ways policymakers can do this are by 1) Providing guaranteed funding to all Hispanic-Serving Institutions who meet the eligibility requirements for Title V grants, 2) investing in the institutional capacity of those that disproportionately enroll and graduate Latino students — HSIs. (For Excelencia’s full institutional capacity recommendations, visit our website.) This requires investment from federal and state policymakers in ensuring that the institutions enrolling two-thirds of our country’s Latino students are able to provide the instruction and support needed to accelerate Latino student success. The data for 2019–20 provide an important checkpoint in Latino student enrollment and growth. We know Latinos’ enrollment in college was increasing before the pandemic. While COVID-19 may have put a pause on students’ education, it cannot mark the end of our collective efforts to ensure America’s future through an educated citizenry, leadership, and workforce that includes Latinos.

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Excelencia informs, leads, & accelerates Latino student success in higher education through research, evidence-based practices, and leadership.

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Excelencia in Education

Excelencia in Education

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Excelencia informs, leads, & accelerates Latino student success in higher education through research, evidence-based practices, and leadership.