On Their Own Terms: Two-Year Minority Serving Institutions

A recent report from the Center on Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) at the University of Pennsylvania focuses on the role two-year MSIs are having in serving and graduating some of the country’s most disadvantaged students.  In addition to reviewing what two-year institutions are, where they are located and who attends them, the report attempts to capture how they are contributing to educational attainment and the workforce. It ends with key questions for policymakers to consider regarding the capacity of two-year MSIs to close educational attainment gaps by race.

Some of the highlights of the report are as follows:

  • Two-Year MSIs are two-year, public or private not-for-profit institutions that are eligible for MSI status due to previous legislation or to the demographic characteristics of their student populations.
    • There are 248 two-year institutions eligible for MSI designation. This constitutes 46% of all MSIs and 22% of all community colleges nationwide.
  • Two-Year MSIs enroll 30% of all Hispanics/Latinos enrolled in postsecondary education, 26% of enrolled Pacific Islanders, 22% of enrolled Asian Americans, 12% of enrolled American Indians, 10% of enrolled African-Americans and 6% of enrolled Whites.
    • Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are twice as likely to be enrolled at two-year MSIs than two-year non MSIs and American Indians and Alaska Natives are five times more likely to attend two-year MSIs than two-year non MSIs.
  • Most two-year MSIs are located near the ethnic and racial communities they serve.
    • For example, the majority of two-year AANAPISIs are located in California, the majority of two-year HBCUs are in the South, the majority of HSIs are located in California and the majority of TCUs are located on or near reservations in the northern Midwest and the Rocky Mountain states.
    • Additionally, many MSIs are located in low-income areas and enroll a significant number of students receiving Pell grants.
  • Two-year MSIs enroll 20% of minorities seeking an associate’s degree and graduate 29% of minority associate degree recipients annually.
  • Like their four-year counterparts, two-year MSIs play a disproportionate role in minority science, technology, engineering and math credential attainment.
    • Two year MSIs contributed to 21% of Asian, 18% of Latino, 14% of Black and 4% of American Indian STEM credentials in 2008-2009.
  • There is some evidence that minorities intending to transfer to four-year institutions are more likely to enroll in two-year MSIs than two-year non MSIs. MSIs play an important role in promoting minority transitions from two-to-four year institutions, especially in STEM fields.