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Latinos choose community colleges

Latinos rely on community colleges to pursue their dreams, reports Diana Costello in LoHud.com.  Half of college-going Latinos are enrolled in community colleges, compared to 36 percent of blacks and 32 percent of whites. But only 35 percent of Latino community college students earn a degree in six years, including 5 percent who complete a bachelor’s degree.

Cost is a big issue for Latinos, especially for illegal immigrants, who aren’t eligible for federal or state financial aid or, in most states, in-state tuition.

Born in Costa Rica, Enior Jiminez crossed the border at the age of five. He dropped out of his New York high school at 16 to marry his pregnant girlfriend, then worked at gas stations and as a  church pastor. He earned his GED at 19, but couldn’t afford college, even though New York offers in-state tuition to undocumented students who’ve earned a diploma or GED in the state.  When Enior became a legal resident at 20, he enrolled in Rockland Community College, where he’s about to complete a neuroscience degree.

“Me applying to any (other) college at that time, I would have been rejected right away,” Jimenez said. “I didn’t have anything to show for it other than a GED, but I guess the experience and the desire was there.”

With scholarship aid and student loans, Jimenez  will study neurology at Columbia University. He plans to go to medical school.

Here are videos of six Latino community college students talking about their desire for an education. Ashley Benavides, born in the U.S., says students like her should “work ten times harder” to succeed.