Half of Hispanic Students Thought About Leaving College Last Year, Survey Shows

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Hispanic college students faced greater challenges staying enrolled in 2022 than students of any other race or ethnicity, according to a new Lumina Foundation-Gallup report.

Fifty percent of Hispanic students in post-high school education programs reported finding it “very difficult” or “difficult” to remain enrolled, compared to 40 percent of Black students and 37 percent of White students.

The State of Higher Education 2022 study, conducted between October 26 and November 17, 2022, highlights the ongoing challenges that have contributed to the sudden decline in college enrollment growth among Hispanic students since the beginning of the pandemic.

From 2009 to 2019, Hispanic college enrollment in the U.S. increased by more than 45 percent, making it one of only two demographic groups, along with Asian adults, that saw growth during that period. However, between 2019 and 2021, enrollment of Hispanic students decreased by approximately 7 percent, with community colleges experiencing declines twice as large.

The survey revealed that despite the easing of pandemic restrictions in 2022, more than half of Hispanic students, or 52 percent, had contemplated stopping their coursework for at least one term in the past six months.

Hispanic students, like their peers, cite a variety of factors for considering stopping out, including emotional stress, mental health concerns, cost, and challenging coursework. A significant number of Hispanic students (47 percent) also said they are caregivers or parents, which may contribute to their higher consideration of stopping out. Among Hispanic students surveyed, a notable portion reported child care (13 percent) or caregiving for adults (14 percent) as reasons for ending their coursework.

According to the study, factors that enabled Hispanic students to stay enrolled include financial aid, confidence in their degree program, enjoyment of their coursework, higher incomes, more flexible personal and work schedules, and a desire to complete their program quickly.

“Even though Hispanic college enrollment appears to be rebounding, disruptions caused by the pandemic, such as to child care, exposed the fragility of many students’ ability to attend college,” a Gallup blog article about the report states. “It’s important to understand why they may have been considering leaving their program a year ago — and what factors may have compelled them to stay and complete their education.”