Civic Nation BrandVoice: College Affordability Supports Latino Student Success

Forbes 1 month ago

For the last fifteen years, Excelencia in Education has worked to accelerate Latino student success in higher education to help address the U.S. economy’s need for a highly educated workforce and civic leadership. 

Focusing on Latino student success is vital, as Latinos are one of the fastest growing young populations in the United States. Latinos currently make up one in four students in elementary and secondary education. As our population continues to grow, we must ensure the postsecondary system adapts to the growing Latino population.

Making college affordability clear and attainable is important to Latino student success. Providing high-touch support to Latino students—many of whom are first-generation—can help students navigate the all-too-common bureaucracy that is higher education. We know that costs beyond tuition can slow down students’ progression, and additional financial aid is a good place to start if we want to support Latino students. 

Excelencia’s analysis of federal data found that Latino students pay for college through grants more so than loans, by adapting our enrollment and attendance patterns, and by making pragmatic choices to accommodate what we think is affordable. Consider the data below. 

Latino students are most likely to attend a public two-year institution, and more than half of students attend a public institution, where tuition is likely to be lower. Latino students are also more likely to attend part-time and remain enrolled longer than their peers.


Although most Latino students come from low-income backgrounds and would qualify for federal aid, just over half of Latinos receive aid of any sort. 


Latinos receive larger average Pell Grant awards compared to most of their peers, but still face large net costs, such as the cost of housing, food, and transportation.


Latino students work over 30 hours a week to cover the cost of their studies, and almost a third work overtime. 


A high-quality College Promise program can help Latino students as they navigate an affordable pathway to a degree. We’ve seen promising practices. Last year, Excelencia recognized Cerritos Complete, a Promise Program, as an Example of Excelencia for its evidence-based success in serving Latino students. The program goes beyond covering the financial component and provides high-touch services to their students, starting from high school. The program resulted in higher rates of full-time enrollment, faster course completion, and higher persistence rates compared to their peers. Cerritos Complete is just one of many College Promise programs across the country that support student success.

October is Hispanic Heritage Month, and it is the perfect time to make the commitment to support Latino student success every day. Supporting Latino students must go beyond enrollment and consider the profile of Latino students in order to truly serve. Check out Excelencia in Education’s website for research on Latino students in higher education, a database of programs supporting Latino student success, and information on our newest initiative, the Seal of Excelencia, a certification for institutions intentionally serving Latino students.

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