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Steps to Greater Latino College Completion

University Business, Nov 2011

With Latinos now representing one in six U.S. residents, the international competitiveness of the nation will depend on the academic success of Latino students, notes the opening of a recent College Board report on Latino college completion. Although the national average of 25- to 34-year-olds in 2009 who had attained an associate degree or higher was 41 percent, just 19 percent of Latinos had done so.

The Commission on Access, Admissions, and Success in Higher Education, convened by the College Board, recommends 10 actions for P-20 to boost educational attainment. The following actions directly involve higher education and Latino educational attainment.

  • Align the K-12 education system with college admission expectations. Give Latino students greater access to a rigorous college-going curriculum in high school and more information on admission requirements.
  • Clarify and simplify the admission process. Consider creating online marketing materials in both English and Spanish. 
  • Provide more need-based grant aid while simplifying the financial aid system and making it more transparent. This aid would give Latino community college students in particular the ability to work less and complete their associate degrees within three years.
  • Keep college affordable by controlling college costs, using available aid and resources wisely, and insisting that state governments meet their higher ed funding obligations. The primary response from colleges to declining state revenue has been to raise tuition, and shifts in educational financing lead Latino students to community colleges. 
  • Increase completion. Latino retention and graduation rates are the lowest among the college-going population. Direct investment in academic support programs, financial aid, and the broader student services infrastructure would help.
  • Provide postsecondary opportunities for adults. Latinos are less likely to participate in adult education programs than their peers. Broadening access to information about the availability of online adult education programs and translating content into Spanish could expand the pool of Latinos enrolling in these programs, and, subsequently, earning college degrees.