Number of Hispanic-Serving Institutions Continues to Rise

According to a report by Excelencia in Education, 13 percent of U.S. colleges and universities — 435 institutions — now qualify as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), meaning Latino and Hispanic students comprise at least 25 percent of their student bodies. That number has more than doubled in the last two decades; last year alone, 27 schools reached HSI status.

This designation is important for institutions because it allows them to apply for special federal grants, which help cover costs at these generally less-affluent schools whose students are disproportionately low-income and first-generation. According to Excelencia in Education, 68 percent of HSIs are public, and half of them are two-year colleges.

“The success of HSIs in enrolling and graduating Latinos is critical given our youth and growth as a population representing the future of our national workforce and country,” Deborah Santiago, chief operating officer and vice president for policy at Excelencia in Education, said in a press release.

HSIs are concentrated in 18 states and U.S. territories, with California, Texas, Florida, New Mexico, New York, and Puerto Rico leading the way. In the past few years, however, HSIs have also grown in states like Indiana, Kansas, and Oregon. Further, 310 colleges and universities in 33 states were deemed “emerging HSIs” by the report, meaning Latino students comprise 15 to 24 percent of their student body.

“The trend we are seeing is increased Latino student enrollment and more concentrated enrollment,” Santiago said. “HSIs enroll about 1.75 million Latino students; this is an increase of over 350 percent since HSIs were recognized in federal law. With 62 percent of Latinos enrolled in HSIs, the role of these institutions in retaining and graduating Latinos to meet our national needs for an educated workforce and citizenry is critical.”

The Higher Education Act of 1994 defined an HSI as an accredited and degree-granting public or private nonprofit institution that enrolls at least 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate, full-time students. When Excelencia in Education first began tracking the number of HSIs that year, there were only 189 such colleges and universities.