For the first time in our country’s history, the majority of U.S. high school students headed to college are Hispanic. U.S. Census data shows that while overall college enrollment in Fall 2012 decreased by 467,000 from the previous year, Hispanic enrollment increased by almost the same amount, or 447,000 students. Latinos now represent about 17 percent of all college students, up from 11 percent in 2006. And according to the Pew Hispanic Center, more females than males are earning degrees.
This shift in demographics presents a few unique challenges for students. Finding ways to make college affordable, such as finding scholarships and other educational resources is often a deciding factor in pursuing a degree. From tuition costs and room and board to lab fees and textbook costs, calculating the total cost of college is quite an undertaking for any student, regardless of ethnicity. Here, we address these concerns and guide students to solutions to finding the most affordable college options possible.
While this guide contains information valuable to all current and future college students, it focuses on data and resources specific to Hispanic students looking to further their education. Here you’ll find information on how to make college more affordable, scholarships and educational resources specific to Hispanic students, background on Hispanic college enrollment, and a ranking of the 32 most affordable Hispanic Serving Institutions in the country.
Paying for college starts well before classes begin and continues on through graduation fees. The key is to know what the costs are, and where to find assistance in paying for them. Costs associated with college that start well before students’ first class include:
Most four-year colleges require students to submit their SAT scores with their application. At $51 for this test, plus additional fees for individual subject-area tests, these costs can add up. To help with these costs, students may take advantage of fee waivers, based on income, or a recommendation from their high school counselor. Waivers cover the cost of sending score reports to up to four colleges of the students’ choice, after the four free reports that all applicants receive.
Many colleges also charge fees, ranging from $35 to $50 per school, to process student applications. The College Board has a comprehensive list of colleges that do not have application fees or that may waive the fee, upon request, for in-state applicants.
Though these costs can add up, there are many avenues Hispanic students can take to make college more affordable. Grants and work-study programs are just two of the ways that students can lower their out-of-pocket cost of college. College financial aid offices are designed to get students on the right path.
Scholarships and grants are an ideal way to help pay for tuition. They are essentially gifted funds based on financial need, cultural background, educational and civic achievements, athletic ability, hobbies, intended major, etc. Funds received do not have to be repaid, although some sources require students to give back to a community or organization as a condition of the scholarship or grant.
There are many opportunities for Hispanic students, but the trick is knowing where to look for the right scholarship or grant. Though high school guidance counselors and college financial aid offices are a good place to start, it helps for students to do research outside as well:
Scholarships and grants can make college a reality for many Hispanic students, but following basic affordability principles will make the experience even better. Finding a college where tuition dollars go the farthest is key, so utilize our list of affordable colleges for Hispanics below.
As you choose a college, location is a key factor to take into consideration. First-year students often adjust better when they can travel home from time to time. Attending a college in another state can make this financially challenging. Keep in mind that online colleges can make a degree more affordable by taking housing and traveling costs out of the equation.
We also have information about lowering your technology costs and the financial benefits of earning an online degree as well as a page dedicated to affordability tips.
Resources abound for Hispanic students seeking a college degree. College admissions offices can guide students to campus-specific assistance, but other help is available too. Below you’ll find additional resources for the Hispanic student who is looking to make the most of their college experience.
So why the increase in Hispanic college enrollments? According to Pew Research Center, the answer is simply that, with a growing Hispanic population nationwide, there will naturally be an increase in Latinos attending college. Today, Hispanic voters say education is a top issue and see a college degree as a key to lifelong success.
About 75 percent of the Hispanic population is concentrated in California, Florida, Texas and a few other states, and many want to stay close to home when attending college. In fact, over half of all Latino undergraduate students in higher education are enrolled in just 11 percent of the institutions in the U.S. Many of these degree-granting institutions, those with at least 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate full-time enrollment, are classified by the U.S. Department of Education as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).HSIs can be two- or four -year institutions, and many offer online programs.
In the 2011-12 academic year, more than 350 institutions were identified as HSIs. The defining characteristic of HSIs is Hispanic enrollment, not an institutional mission. So it’s important for students to take a look at all the services provided by the school, rather than simply the number of Hispanic students enrolled, says Dr. Shirley Reed, president of South Texas College, whose student population is 96 percent Hispanic.
For one, Hispanic students should research how the college will support them academically, especially if they struggled in high school. Some Hispanic students may feel unprepared for college or have difficulty acclimating to campus life, and some can face cultural pressures from home that conflict with their educational goals.
“Colleges need to make sure they have adequate support mechanisms in place, such as tutoring, mentorship, self-esteem and cultural sensitivity classes,” says Dr. Ronnie Higgs, vice president for student affairs and enrollment services at Cal State Monterey Bay, an HSI with 29 percent Latino enrollment.
Online students also have unique needs. STC, for example, has five physical campuses, and a sixth virtual campus with 6,000 students taking online classes. “These students need support as well,” says Reed. “We see many online students coming to campus to take their classes in the computer lab or the library. They may not have good computers at home, or live in communities with low Internet bandwidth.”
“Universities need to be affordable, welcoming, and sensitive to the cultural needs of Hispanic students, or these students will leave,” continues Reed. “Hispanic students want to be valued, respected, and nurtured. I often get asked, ‘How do you serve Hispanic students?’My answer is that you serve them like any other student. You treat them with respect, have the same expectations, and are optimistic that they will succeed. You need to understand the challenging life circumstances they come from, but they are not very different from any other group with socio-economic challenges.”
Hispanic students searching for a good college fit clearly need to consider many factors. If a school with a large Hispanic population is important to them, then an HSI probably makes sense. But students may want to look beyond percentage of Hispanic students at a college to see what the school offers them in terms of support before and during the college years. And because cost is also a key factor, Affordable Colleges Online has compiled a list of the 32 most affordable HSIs in the United States.
|College||City||State||Total Enrolled||% Hispanic||Tuition & Fees||Type|
|Miami Dade College||Miami||Florida||99,232||54%||$ 3,366||Public|
|Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus||Portales||New Mexico||6,868||26%||$ 4,350||Public|
|University of Houston- Downtown||Houston||Texas||16,341||34%||$ 5,022||Public|
|The University of Texas – Pan American||Edinburg||Texas||23,023||88%||$ 5,165||Public|
|The University of Texas of the Permian Basin||Odessa||Texas||5,170||37%||$ 5,250||Public|
|The University of Texas at Brownsville||Brownsville||Texas||18,970||86%||$ 5,488||Public|
|Texas A & M International University||Laredo||Texas||8,287||88%||$ 5,714||Public|
|CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice||New York||New York||18,040||30%||$ 5,759||Public|
|CUNY Lehman College||Bronx||New York||16,084||37%||$ 5,808||Public|
|California State University – Monterey Bay||Seaside||California||5,216||29%||$ 5,963||Public|
|South Texas College||McAllen||Texas||36,951||94%||$ 6,045||Public|
|University of New Mexico – Main Campus||Albuquerque||New Mexico||33,304||32%||$ 6,050||Public|
|California State University – Dominguez Hills||Carson||California||15,909||33%||$ 6,095||Public|
|California State University – Los Angeles||Los Angeles||California||22,830||32%||$ 6,101||Public|
|California State Polytechnic University – Pomona||Pomona||California||22,770||25%||$ 6,125||Public|
|California State University – Fullerton||Fullerton||California||39,521||26%||$ 6,195||Public|
|California State University – Fresno||Fresno||California||22,285||31%||$ 6,228||Public|
|California State University – San Bernadino||San Bernadino||California||19,065||33%||$ 6,327||Public|
|Florida International University||Miami||Florida||56,288||57%||$ 6,417||Public|
|New Mexico State University||Las Cruces||New Mexico||21,692||39%||$ 6,513||Public|
|California State University – Stanislaus||Turlock||California||9,411||27%||$ 6,582||Public|
|California State University-Bakersfield||Bakersfield||California||9,456||34%||$ 6,709||Public|
|Texas A & M University – Kingsville||Kingsville||Texas||11,927||52%||$ 6,940||Public|
|Texas A & M University – Corpus Christi||Corpus Christi||Texas||11,785||36%||$ 7,084||Public|
|The University of Texas at El Paso||El Paso||Texas||26,232||72%||$ 7,214||Public|
|The University of Texas at San Antonio||San Antonio||Texas||35,098||43%||$ 7,389||Public|
|New Jersey City University||Jersey City||New Jersey||10,605||26%||$ 10,422||Public|
|University of the Incarnate Word||San Antonio||Texas||9,153||53%||$ 23,690||Private Not-for-Profit|
|Saint Thomas University||Miami Gardens||Florida||5,000||38%||$ 25,110||Private Not-for-Profit|
|Fresno Pacific University||Fresno||California||5,027||33%||$ 25,336||Private Not-for-Profit|
|St. Edward’s University||Austin||Texas||6,109||27%||$ 31,110||Private Not-for-Profit|
|University of La Verne||La Verne||California||10,304||$ 33,350||Private Not-for- Profit|
Margarita Barresi was born and raised in Puerto Rico and studied at Boston University, where she was fortunate to be awarded financial aid. She writes frequently about higher education and financial aid topics, and has one daughter in college and another on the way.