Hispanics are the nation’s largest minority group, making up more than 50 million people, or about 16.5% of the U.S. population. While thousands of students graduate from college each year, only 13% of Latinos graduate from college—the lowest of any U.S. ethnic group. Latino college graduation rates are at an all-time low of 19.4% compared to the national average of 41%, according to the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center.
This data mirrors findings of the latest Pew Research Center study on Hispanic students, released Aug. 20, which found that while the demographic reached new milestones, Hispanic students still trail their white peers in the numbers.
“Our whole mission is to serve the underserved,” said Sheila Lewis, associate provost and director of the Neumann School of Business and Management at United States University, which focuses on educating Latino and military students. With campuses located in the greater Los Angeles area and Chula Vista, San Diego county, U.S. University’s on-campus population is primarily Latino.
“When we looked at needs assessment, these (demographics) are the entrepreneurs and small business owners in Southern California,” said Lewis. “They’re very few of these (business owners) that make it on to earn a master’s.”
Over the past four decades, the Pew Research found that the number of Hispanics graduating with either an associate or a bachelor’s degree has increased seven-fold, with growth outpacing that of other groups. Even so, the number of Hispanics awarded college degrees lags that of other groups, and their share of college graduates remains below that of all college student enrollments.
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The Pew Research found that in 2010, 1.2 million bachelor’s degrees were awarded to non-Hispanic white students and 165,000 to non-Hispanic black students – in that same period, only 112,000 degrees were awarded to the nation’s largest minority.
“I think online education makes Latino students very competitive with their peers,” said Lewis. “A lot of these students might not have the formal education, but they do have the skill set (needed for an MBA), because they are entrepreneurs or already work in the service industry.
“If they don’t have the ‘MBA’, it’s tough for them to be promoted. Many already have the mindset, and an online degree will increase their opportunities.”
Large gaps exist between college completion rates of different ethnicities, but almost all ethnic groups show steady growth, with the exception of Latinos. According to the report, How America Pays for College 2012, Latinos are less likely, out of all demographics, to take student loans to pay for college. Only 40% of Latinos borrowed money for secondary education.
To help address these financial needs, U.S. University started the Rudolf I. Estrada Hispanic Scholarship Programs. Latino students nationwide can be awarded up to $4,050 toward online master degree programs in business administration, nursing administration, or nursing education.
–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets