Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Analysis: More Colleges See Large Latino Enrollments

About 54 percent of all U.S. Latino undergraduate college students in 2011-12 attended Hispanic-Serving Institutions, a new analysis has found.

HSIs are federally defined as those accredited colleges and universities where at least 25 percent of the full-time undergraduate students enrolled are Latino. Such colleges and universities now make up 11 percent of all colleges and universities in the country, according to the report by Excelencia in Education and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

During the 2011-12 school year, there were 356 HSIs nationwide, according to the Excelencia analysis, which used data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Such schools are growing at a fast clip, as the number of HSIs grew by 45 institutions between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.

The designation is important because HSIs can qualify for federal Title V education funding, allowing them to expand academic programs and work on improving graduation rates.

Excelencia vice president of policy and co-founder Deborah Santiago told NBC Latino that it’s critical to ensure that HSIs receive the resources they need.

“Census data says Latino enrollment in college is the highest it’s ever been, but now it’s time to focus on the institutions they are attending, understand their reasons for attendance and focus on the quality of education they are receiving,” Santiago said.

Santiago added that it’s important to keep a list of HSIs because many don’t even know their status and that they can qualify for special federal funding.

Excelencia has identified 250 additional institutions where enrollment ranges between 15-24% Latino, making the schools potential future HSIs.

According to Excelencia, the largest group of HSIs are public two-year community colleges. Two-year schools make up 47 percent of HSIs, a total of 169. By comparison, there are 70 public four-year HSIs, 99 private non-profit four-year institutions, and 18 private two-year non-profit institutions.

California had 112 HSIs — the most of any state, by far. It was followed by Texas, with 66, and Puerto Rico, with 61. The majority of the schools are located in cities, not suburbs or rural areas. And when the enrollments of the HSIs in 2011-12 were averaged out, their total enrollment was 47 poercent Latino — representing 943,246 Hispanic college students.