Latino Students

Facts and figures related to Latino students in higher education.

In 2012, 21 percent of traditional U.S. college students were Latino; the second largest ethnic group enrolled at the undergraduate level. This demographic is growing quickly, and is projected to increase by 27 percent between 2011 and 2022. While the number of Latino college students is increasing overall, these students continue to be overrepresented in open-access and community colleges and underrepresented in four-year institutions.

Enrollment/Degree Attainment

  • Over a third of Latinos aged 18-24 enrolled in college in 2013, decreasing the enrollment gap between Latinos and Whites by 10 percentage points.
  • Latino students tend to be concentrated in public institutions: 83 percent of Latino students enrolled in public institutions in 2013; a higher percentage than any other race/ethnicity group for that same year.
    • In 2013, 34 percent of Latino students were enrolled in public four-year institutions and 49 percent were enrolled in public two-year institutions.
  • Completion rates are increasing among Latinos.
    • The percentage of Latinos aged 25-29 with at least an Associate’s degree increased from 13 percent to 27 percent from 1995 to 2016.
      • The increase among White students of the same age who had earned at least an Associate’s degree increased from 38 percent to 54 percent over the same time period, leaving the current attainment gap intact.
    • Latinos aged 25-29 who had attained at least a Bachelor’s degree increased from 9 percent in 1995 to 19 percent in 2016.
      • By comparison, the proportion of White students of the same age with at least a Bachelor’s degree increased more, from 29 percent to 43 percent over the same time period.
    • Latino students are overrepresented in Associate’s degree programs.
      • Twenty-nine percent of Latino students are in Associate’s degree programs, compared to 23 percent of White students, 23 percent of Asian students and 26 percent of African-American students.
    • Latino students are underrepresented in Bachelor’s degree programs.
      • Less than 20 percent of Latino students are enrolled in Bachelor’s degree programs compared to 39 percent of White students, 50 percent of Asian students, and 24 percent of African-American students.
    • Despite increased completion rates for Latinos overall, foreign-born Latinos are less likely to have earned an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree than Latinos born in the United States.
      • As of 2009, 4 percent of the immigrant Latino population had earned Associate’s degrees compared with 8 percent of the U.S. born Latino population.
      • As of 2012, 11 percent of the immigrant Latino population had earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher compared with 18 percent of U.S. born Latinos.

Financial Challenges

  • Latino students often face many financial hurdles.
    • Sixty percent of Latino students receive some type of federal aid, compared to 53 percent of White students, 44 percent of Asian students, and 73 percent of African-American students.
    • Forty percent of Latino college students receive a Pell grant. Overall, they make up 20 percent of all Pell grant recipients.
  • Forty percent of Latinos holding at least an Associate’s degree report having student loan debt.
  • The average debt of a Latino graduate in 2012 was $23,441; that number rises to over $36,000 if the student attended a for-profit institution.
  • A significant percentage of Latino students enter college as low-income students.
    • Thirty-four percent of independent Latino students make less than $30,000 per year
    • Fifty percent of dependent Latino students make less than $40,000 per year.

Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs)

  • HSIs serve 64 percent of the Latino student population enrolled in higher education and nearly half of full-time students at HSIs (46 percent) are Latino.
  • The number of HSIs has grown from 189 in the 1994-95 school year to 472 in the 2015-16 school year. They represent 14 percent of all institutions of higher education.
    • Sixty-six percent of HSIs are public institutions while 34 percent are private, not-for-profit institutions.
    • The split between two- and four-year institutions is close to even. There are 233 two-year HSIs and 239 four-year HSIs.
  • HSIs are located in 19 different states and Puerto Rico.
  • The majority of all HSIs are located in five states and Puerto Rico: California (159), Texas (83), Puerto Rico (65), Florida (27), New York (25), and New Mexico (23).

Sources Used:

Racial and Ethnic Differences in Family Student Loan Debt. Urban Institute, July 2016.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) Fact Sheet: 2015-16. Excelencia in Education, April 2017.

The Distribution of Grants and Scholarships by Race., September 2011.

College Degree Gap Grows Wider Between Whites, Blacks and Latinos. The Hechinger Report, January 2016.

Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2016. National Center for Education Statistics, August 2016.

The Condition of Education. National Center for Education Statistics, May 2017.

Profile of Undergraduate Students: 2011-12. National Center for Education Statistics, October 2014.

Latinos in Higher Education. Excelencia in Education, January 2015.

From Capacity to Success: HSIs, Title V and Latino Students. Excelencia in Education, May 2016.



Updated July 2017