While the percentage of Hispanic college students receiving federal aid is at an all time high, the amount of aid they receive continues to be the lowest of all minority groups, a new report reveals.
The study, How Hispanic Students Pay for College, found Hispanics students received an average aid award of $6,250 in 2003-04, compared to the national average award of $6,890. Asian students received the highest average award of $7,260.
"Financial aid is critical for all students but more so for the Hispanic community, given the percentage of which come from modest financial backgrounds," said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia. "This report dispels the myth that Hispanic students are getting a free ride."
Hispanic students rely heavily on federal aid and on grants in particular, according to the report, given that they are more likely to be first-generation college students (49 percent) and to have relatively low family incomes. Nearly 80 percent of Hispanic undergraduates applied for aid and 63 percent of those received some form of aid in 2003-04. And while Hispanics were more likely to receive federal aid (50 percent) than all groups except African American students (62 percent), Hispanics received the lowest average federal awards.
At the same time, the report cites the need for further research into factors that may influence the findings, including the relationship between the amount of aid awarded to Hispanic students and their enrollment patterns. For example, Hispanic students were more likely to enroll on a parttime basis than any other group (51 percent). Almost half of Hispanic undergraduates were enrolled at public two-year institutions in 2003-04, according to the report, and only one-quarter of Hispanic students (25 percent) attended four-year campuses. In addition, 40 percent of Hispanic students enrolled at institutions with tuition and fees of less than $1,000, and 36 percent were enrolled at campuses with costs between $1,000 and $5,000.
Ideas For Improving Outcomes
While the Hispanic community in the United States is currently enjoying explosive population growth – by 2050 Hispanics are expected to make up nearly one-quarter of the nation's population – Hispanic success in higher education has lagged far behind. The report outlines a series of recommendations to improve Hispanic success, including a call for outreach campaigns at the federal, state and local levels to target information on financial aid options to Hispanic students and families. In addition, the report calls for the following recommendations by sector:
* Federal Government: Increase maximum awards for Pell grants to better align with increased college costs, and create an entitlement-based loan forgiveness program for students who study in areas of national need.
* States: Establish a predictable tuition and fee policy.
* Institutions: Disaggregate institutional data to identify Hispanic progress, ensure course availability and strengthen course planning.
* K-12 Community: Encourage mentoring by experienced parents and students, and offer courses on paying for college.
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