A new report by the Pew Hispanic Center has found that Hispanic students between the ages of 18-24 enrolled in college at a rate faster than any other ethnic group in the 2009-2010 school year. During a year when total college enrollment for college-aged students was at 12.2 million, 1.8 million, or 15 percent, were Hispanic. 349,000 Hispanics, a 24 percent increase, enrolled in college as Freshman in the ’09-’10 school year, more than the 88,000 black students and 43,000 Asian American students who did the same. The number of white students decreased by 320,000.

Hispanics make up 16 percent of the total US population, making them the largest minority group in the US. Part of the reason for the spike in their enrollment numbers was a recent surge in the overall Hispanic population. Another part is increased high school graduation rates. Graduation rates went from 70 percent in 2009 to 73 percent in 2010. Graduates who then went onto college rose from 39 percent to 43 percent.Some 46 percent of these students have enrolled at 2-year community colleges. This is significantly higher than the number of whites (27 percent), Asian Americans (22 percent) and blacks (37 percent) who’ve done the same.

Despite these gains, Hispanic students are still more likely to not go to college than any other ethnic group. They are appear to be graduating from college at a rate lower than any other group.Only 13 percent of Hispanics between 25 and 29 have bachelor’s degrees. This is lower than blacks (19 percent), whites (39 percent), and Asians (53 percent) in the same age range.

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Justin Spees is an intern at the Washington Monthly.