Getting more Latinos into, and graduated from, college is important to maintaining and improving the country’s education rate.

As the fastest-growing minority population in the United States, Hispanics are important to policymakers. As Jose Rico, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, said earlier this month, “there’s no way of denying that the future of America depends on the education attainment of Hispanics.”

Many, many of them are already going to college, but the details of their education are important. A whole lot of them are “going to college” only in a vocational sense. According to an article by Jamaal Abdul-Alim in Diverse Issues in Higher Education:

Black, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian students accounted for nearly 40 percent of total enrollment at for-profit schools in 2007, but only 31 percent and 25 percent of enrollment in public and private non-profit institutions, respectively, according to a new Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute white paper released at the event and titled “Recruiting the Growing Minority: Latino Enrollment Practices in For-Profit Colleges and Universities.”

The paper – written by 2011-2012 CHCI Higher Education Graduate Fellow Enrique Soto – also notes that Hispanics at for-profits completed their degrees at a rate of 25 percent, versus 60 percent at private nonprofits and 46 percent at public institutions.

This should not be all that surprising. Historically recent immigrants were able to access higher education largely through America’s state colleges and universities. In recent years state legislatures have cut funding for higher education. At the same time, increased demand has caused overcrowding at many community colleges, another crucial institution immigrants and their children traditionally used to access higher education.

That’s why Latinos are seeking out for-profit colleges, because state schools aren’t a viable option for many of them anymore.

The 25 percent completion rate isn’t actually all that low for proprietary colleges, but it’s probably too low for Latinos in general.

If the United States is serious about getting more Hispanics into and through college, policymakers have to do something to improve access to state institutions. There’s only so much one can expect for-profit schools to do. [Image via]

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