Giving Compass' Take:

• California community colleges are receiving grants from the Department of Education to help low-income and Latino students transfer out of community college into four-year institutions.  These university programs are called Hispanic Serving Institutions. 

• Although more Latino students are enrolling in college, the graduation gap remains. How can universities work on retaining the Latino population? 

• Read about the LATIDO roundtable that served as a space to evaluate the effectiveness of Hispanic Serving Institutions. 

When Roxana Arguelles transferred last year from a local community college to Cal State Northridge, she did not know that she was benefitting from that university’s identification as a Hispanic Serving Institution.

All she knew was that she had received special help in choosing courses for her accounting major, was mentored into a financial industry internship and borrowed some expensive textbooks for free from a special lending library.

Those benefits, she later learned, resulted from a $3 million U.S. Department of Education grant to a new program that seeks to bolster transfers of low-income and Latino students from two community colleges — Pierce College in Los Angeles and College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita — into Cal State Northridge.

The schools Arguelles attended are among the rapidly rising numbers of colleges and universities in California and across the nation enrolling enough Latino students to be listed as Hispanic Serving Institutions by two major organizations representing Hispanics in higher education. In general, that means that at least 25 percent of the schools’ full-time undergraduates describe themselves as Hispanic, Latino or other related terms.

That designation is an important qualification that allows colleges to compete for a variety of limited federal funds, such as the Title V money that is helping transfer students at Cal State Northridge and encouraging more Latinos and low-income students at Cal State Long Beach to enter teaching careers.

While more Latino students are entering college, gaps remain in how many graduate. Among students who entered Cal State as a full-time freshman, the four-year graduation rate for Latinos is 16 percent compared to 36 percent for whites; the six-year rate is 54 percent for Latinos and 67 percent for whites.

Read the full article about Hispanic serving institution by Larry Gordon at EdSource