Young Hispanics' College Enrollment Rose 24% in Year, Study Says

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The New York Times
By: Sabrina Tavernise
August 25, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Hispanics in the United States have registered significant gains in education, with college enrollment among young Hispanics up by 24 percent from 2009 to 2010, a new report shows.

The report, published Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center and based on census data, shows that the rise in college enrollment among Hispanics ages 18 to 24 was the largest increase among all major ethnic and racial groups.

Part of the increase among Hispanic youth, who have long been lagging in educational attainment, was demographic: Hispanics are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups. But the population of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanics rose by just 7 percent in the same time period, far slower than the surge in their rate of college enrollment, said Richard Fry, a senior research associate at the center and the author of the report.

"This isn't just about population growth," Mr. Fry said. "They are narrowing the gap."

The rise pushed Hispanic college enrollment to 1.8 million, making Hispanic youths the largest minority group on college campuses in the country, surpassing the 1.7 million black college students in that age group. Hispanics surpassed blacks as a portion of the American population around 2000, and in 2010 represented 16 percent of the population.

However, Hispanics still lag in another measure, the share of the group in college. Thirty-two percent of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in 2010, compared with 38 percent of blacks, 62 percent of Asians and 43 percent of whites.

In 1972, just 13 percent of Hispanics in that age group were in college, Mr. Fry said.

The report also highlighted gains in high school completion rates for Hispanics. In 2000, just 59 percent of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds had completed high school; last year, 72 percent had.

Much of the growth among Hispanics has been in community colleges, the report found. Of all the young Hispanics who were attending college last October, about 46 percent were at two-year colleges, and 54 percent were at four-year colleges. In comparison, 73 percent of young white college students were enrolled in four-year colleges, 78 percent of young Asians and 63 percent of young blacks.

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