Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report: Hispanic-Serving Institutions Achieving Success

Latino college students tend to be highly concentrated in a small number of schools known as Hispanic-Serving Institutions—public and non-profit colleges where 25 percent or more of the undergraduate students enrolled are Hispanic.

In fact, during the 2010-11 school year about 53 percent of Hispanic college students attended HSIs, which only make up about 10 percent of all higher education institutions. That same year, there were 311 HSIs in the nation.

The advocacy group Excelencia in Education group recently took a closer look at HSIs between 2004 and 2009 and made some interesting findings.

Since HSIs were first defined in 1992, the number of institutions has grown, as has federal funding in the form of Title V-DHSI grants–in the amount of $117 million in 2010-11. The institutions also are using the funds to focus more tightly on faculty development and student services.

Over the years, the federal funding has become more focused. For example, funds go toward purposes such as purchasing science equipment and books. Other funds go toward supporting low-income students with academic support services and mentoring.

The report highlights a number of successful uses of Title V funding:

- Imperial Valley College of California used $548,125 toward Project ACCESO (Accessing Community College Education by Strengthening Outreach) initially in 2004. The college spend funds on faculty staff development, online assessments and improving technology.

- Dodge City Community College in Kansas used $572,585 in 2007 to focus on student success, including strengthening developmental courses, broadening distance learning opportunities, developing ESL assessments and support and renovating the Academic Support Center.

- Mountain View College in Texas used $464,589 in 2000 to focus on student success efforts including development a success center, supporting faculty development and implementing early intervention for struggling students.

Excelencia calls for future research to determine whether HSIs are increasing Latino student success with the help of federal funding support. Among the questions posed, the group asks: Does federal investment in institutional capacity building efforts develop stronger institutions and support access to a quality education? And, what measures of accountability ensure federal investments reach students?

Are there any HSIs in your area–and what are they doing to improve Hispanic student success? Because Latinos are so highly concentrated in a relative small number of colleges, the success of these schools plays a large role in determining the educational outcomes of Latinos in general.