“Let Me Get Back to You”

The latest trend in higher education policy seems to be a worry about the rate at which Hispanic students complete college. Reporting for McClatchy, Danny Yadron writes that:

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday that he wanted his department to help cut dropout rates and boost college enrollment for Hispanic Americans.

Hispanics have started to close the gap in freshman-year college enrollment, but they’ve stalled in graduation rates, according to a study released last month by the American Enterprise Institute , a conservative policy organization in Washington . On average, 51 percent of Latino undergraduates earn degrees in six years or fewer, compared with 59 percent of non-Hispanic white students, the study found.

Duncan was a little vague, however, on what he actually planned to do to help improve Hispanic college graduation. Andrew Kelly, one author of the AEI paper, recommended linking higher education funding to graduation, not enrollment. According to the Yadron article,

Duncan said he agreed, at least in principle. “Access is critical,” he said, “but at the end of the day, it’s about completion.”

When he was asked whether he’d support such a funding overhaul, however, he responded: “Let me get back to you on that.”

While America waists for his response, it’s worth pointing out that while the Hispanic graduation rate lags behind the white one, the black graduation rate is even worse. In fact, only 43 percent of black undergraduates earn degrees in six years or fewer. At historically black colleges and universities the rate is even lower; just 37 percent of black students in these schools finish a degree within six years.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer