Improving Hispanic students Graduation Rates

Jun 30, 2021 by

How can higher education administrators improve Hispanic students graduation rates? Here is what the research says.

The Hispanic population is growing fast in the United States. The number of Hispanics enrolled in Higher Education rose to 3.27 million in 2017 up from 1.4 million in 2000. There are now many more Latinos in college. Higher Education is increasingly dependent on these students. While Higher Education in the United States is getting better at attracting Latinos there is an issue about high dropout rates. The graduation rates among Hispanics is lower than Asian Americans for example.  The Bill and Melinda Gates found that only 51% of Hispanic students graduate, while 58% of white students complete their undergraduate degrees (2018). Higher Education institutions can do better, instead of failing to meet the goals of the Latino community and in turn, this has implications for equality in the broader society. 

Challenges facing Hispanic students in Higher Education.

There are a number of challenges facing young Latinos. The first is that they mainly come from poorer backgrounds and lack the financial resources required. Often, they are unable to afford tuition or appropriate accommodations and this contributes to the higher drop-out rate. Then many Hispanics are unprepared for college life as many are the first from their family to go into higher education. Many find it challenging to adapt to a learning environment where most of the faculty is white (Simmons, 2018). A significant number of Latino students may feel that they are culturally excluded and not part of the learning community. Then a high proportion of students come from Spanish-speaking families or their first language was not English and this can be a barrier towards achieving their higher education aspirations. 

Supporting Hispanic students to Graduate

There are some ways that Higher Education administrators can help Hispanic students not only stay in college but to flourish academically and personally. A set of strategies can help to improve Hispanic graduation rates. Learning from institutions that have higher graduation rates such as Hispanic serving institutions and minority-serving colleges can be enormously beneficial.

  • Efforts should be made to make tuition more affordable. If this is not practical, the emphasis should be on preparing students for the labor market and improving their employment prospects. This can persuade students to stay in college because they know that they can improve their career prospects over the long term (Simmons, 2018).
  • Higher Education administrators can help students and their families with information and applications for grants and aids. More Hispanic students receive Pell grant money than white students. Any financial assistance could be the difference between staying in Higher Education or dropping out.
  • Because so few Hispanics come from backgrounds where family members went to college, more supports are needed (Espinosa et al, 2019). This may involve workshops that show potential students what is expected of them, and practical advice could improve retention rates in Higher Education (Simmons, 2018).
  • Faculty and staff members are recommended to provide Hispanic mentors to students (Moschetti, et al, 2018). These can help students to develop plans that would allow them to successfully graduate. Higher education administrators have to regularly assess how inclusive and equitable their institution is by using toolkits such as the Self-Assessment Rubric For the Institutionalization of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education.
  • The creation of spaces where Hispanic students feel that they can study and are culturally accepted. A good example of this is the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs at Northeastern University in Illinois. Here differences are celebrated, and students are empowered to become agents for the promotion of diversity and inclusion.
  • Because so many Hispanic students come from poorer backgrounds and are the first in their family to attend Higher Education, they often lack confidence in their abilities. Support can be provided to help them to build up their resilience so that they can adapt to and succeed in an academic environment (Tajalli, & Ortiz, 2018).
  • Higher Education administrators can make their institution a learning organization. They can create a system to collect data on the views and opinions of Hispanic students and other stakeholders. Any feedback can be used to refine or introduce new policies that can help to improve Hispanic graduation rates (Tajalli, & Ortiz, 2018).


Name two ways that Hispanic students can be supported if they are facing challenges in your educational institution?


Hispanic students, dropout, graduation rates, Hispanic graduation rates, higher education administrators, higher education leadership, minority students


Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (2018). Low Hispanic College Graduation Rates Threaten U.S. Attainment Goals | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates Foundation. Retrieved from:

Espinosa, L. L., Turk, J. M., Taylor, M., & Chessman, H. M. (2019). Race and ethnicity in higher education: A status report. Retrieved from:

Moschetti, R. V., Plunkett, S. W., Efrat, R., & Yomtov, D. (2018). Peer mentoring as social capital for Latina/o college students at a Hispanic-serving institution. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 17(4), 375-392. Retrieved from:

Simmons, K. N. (2018). Effect of undergraduate research programs on retention of Hispanic students. Retrieved from:

Tajalli, H., & Ortiz, M. (2018). An examination of Hispanic college enrollment and graduation: Has the Texas Closing the Gaps plan been successful?. Journal of Latinos and Education, 17(4), 330-343. Retrieved from:

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