The road map recommends that colleges focus their policy work on increasing retention for working students, growing early-college high schools and dual-enrollment programs, and guaranteeing need-based aid for qualified students.
By 2025, Hispanics will make up one quarter of the college-age population, Excelencia predicts. Fulfilling President Obama’s college-completion goal is impossible without improving Hispanic success rates.
The road map includes examples of initiatives that are “moving the needle” on degree attainment.
For example, to increase student retention, the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Puerto Rico offers general-education courses online as a backup system for students in good academic standing with unexpected work-schedule changes during a semester.
The University of Texas at El Paso’s Promise Plan covers all tuition and mandatory fees for students with family incomes of $30,000 or less who are Texas residents, complete 30 credits a year, and earn a grade-point average of 2.0 or higher.
Sixty groups, including Jobs for the Future and Project Grad USA, joined Excelencia in the project, called Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion. The Gates Foundation, the Lumina Foundation for Education,and the Kresge Foundation funded the effort.
The road map urges better “training and materials for loan-default management and financial literacy . . . to better serve low-income students.”
Contrary to common perceptions, close to 90 percent of Hispanic students were born in the U.S., according to a 2009 Excelencia report . More than 80 percent of Hispanic school-age children speak English with no difficulty. Despite low graduation rates, 2008 Census data showed than 67 percent of Hispanics ages 18 to 24 had completed high school.