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Hispanic-Serving Institutions Face Unique Funding Challenges, Says New Issue Brief

September 09, 2015

student at library


​Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) only constitute 12 percent of all U.S. colleges and universities, but they educate 60 percent of enrolled Latino students in higher education. HSIs are defined by the U.S. Department of Education generally as “accredited, degree-granting, public or private, nonprofit colleges and universities with 25 percent or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time enrollment.” 

ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS) has released an issue brief focused on the role that HSIs play in educating Latinos and the funding challenges they face.

Government Investment in Public Hispanic-Serving Institutions” is the first in a series of issue briefs that CPRS will release over the next year that will focus on tribal colleges and universities and historically black colleges and universities and provide recommendations for policymakers about how to better invest in these institutions.  

This issue brief provides an overview of a pattern of historic inequities in funding that led to federal recognition and support for HSIs, explains the current revenue streams available to these institutions and examines trends in public investment during the recent recession that could threaten their long-term viability. 

For example, state and local appropriations remain the primary source of revenue at all public colleges and universities, particularly at HSIs. However, two trends highlight the unique disadvantage HSIs face when legislatively allocated taxpayer state and local appropriations are examined: 

  • Public four-year HSIs receive, on average, less total revenue per full-time equivalent student than public four-year institutions that are not designated as Hispanic-serving.
  • Between 1999 and 2010, state and local funding for higher education declined (See figures below). 

State and Local Appropriations at All Four-year HSI and Non-HSI Public Colleges and Universities, 1999–2012 (by FTE and 2012 Dollars)

HSI report Fig 4

State and Local Appropriations at All Two-year HSI and Non-HSI Public Colleges and Universities, 1999–2012 (by FTE and 2012 Dollars)

With trends indicating that Latinos will continue to be the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, our ability to provide a quality education to this demographic is critical to our economy and democracy.

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