Demographic truths about Latino attainment

Posted by Governing Magazine on March 2, 2015

U.S. population growth is now driven by Hispanics: No other group is replenishing itself through births or immigration to reverse overall population decline, writes Tim Henderson for Stateline. In 25 states, however, whites are twice as likely as Hispanics to have college degrees, a serious problem in an economy that generates more jobs for the educated. Rising Latino dropout rates and falling family incomes will put an increasing strain on state resources if Latinos are left behind. Yet Hispanic immigrants, documented or undocumented, must overcome daunting obstacles to earn a college degree. U.S.-born Hispanic college students face unusual financial pressures, and lack advice and role models for academic achievement. Happily, recent nationwide studies suggest the education gap is closing as recent waves of Hispanic immigrants settle in and become more affluent and proficient in English. By 2012, a record 69 percent of Hispanic high school graduates were enrolled in college, surpassing the rate for white students, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center report. And in Florida and the District of Columbia, the percentage of Hispanics with a college degree is closer to the share of the overall population with that credential. Miami’s large population of Cuban immigrants, many descendants of elites who fled the Cuban Revolution in 1959, is partially responsible for Florida’s narrower gap.

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