NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 28, 2004

Young Hispanic high school graduates are as likely as their white counterparts to enter college, yet half as likely to finish a bachelor's degree, says a new study by the Department of Education.

While lack of preparation for college in public schools is an ongoing factor, the dismal completion rate affects even the most prepared Hispanic students. The study finds that Latinos attend non-selective colleges and universities at a greater rate than whites, and these universities have lower completion rates:

Researchers further observed:

  • Almost 60 percent of the most adequately prepared Latinos attend non-select colleges and universities, while only 52 percent of white students do.
  • Nearly 66 percent of Latinos enroll in institutions with "open door" admissions, such as two-year community colleges and vocational-technical schools, while only 45 percent of white students do.
  • Of those who start off at two-year institutions, 7 percent of Hispanics finish a bachelor's degree, over half the completion rate of white students.

Among students enrolled in the most selective colleges and universities, Latinos complete their bachelor's degree at a higher rate than if they were enrolled in less selective schools' however, the completion rate of 83 percent at these schools still falls behind the white completion rate of 90 percent, say researchers.

Source: Mary Beth Marklein, "Hispanics Strain to Finish College," USA Today, June 23, 2004; based upon Richard Fry, "Hispanics in College: Participation and Degree Attainment," U.S. Department of Education, October 2003.

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