New Report Offers Recommendations for HSIs to Secure Federal Funding and Better Serve Their Latino Students

A team of researchers at CMSI take an in-depth look at HSI initiatives, federal funding challenges, and enrollment statistics, and offer recommendations for their continued growth.

Philadelphia, May 21, 2015—The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) has published a report detailing new statistics regarding Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). The report, An Examination of Existing and Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions’ Latino Initiatives and Culture, looks at both established and emerging HSIs to review how they have developed initiatives that benefit Latino students, who comprise one of the fastest-growing student populations in the nation.

“With the number of HSIs growing dramatically, it is important to explore the targeted programs they offer their Latina/o students,” said Daniel Corral, co-author of the report and an Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis PhD student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “These institutions have the tools to provide access and success to students who might not otherwise attend college and/or acclimate them to new environments.”

HSI became an official federal designation in 1992 and refers to institutions whose enrollments are at least 25% Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE). The report notes that 409 colleges currently meet this requirement. However, there exist 296 “Emerging HSIs” that enroll between 15-24% Hispanic FTE but do not yet qualify for Title III or V federal funding despite serving an ever-growing population of Hispanic students.

“As greater numbers of Latino students pursue higher education, it is important now more than ever to examine how HSIs may best serve their students,” suggested Marybeth Gasman, director of CMSI and a member of the report’s research team. “Part of that is ensuring federal funding can be acquired by the institutions that deserve it.”

While HSIs represent only 11% of all colleges and universities in the US, they enroll over 59% of the nation’s Hispanic postsecondary students and therefore play a the vital role in educating the burgeoning US Latino population.

Selecting five emerging HSIs as case studies, the report explains that even in lieu of federal funding, emerging HSIs have a variety of academic programs and initiatives specifically targeted at Hispanics. For example, Laney College in Oakland, CA (16% Hispanic FTE) has launched the “Puente Project,” which prepares Hispanic students by offering them English composition classes, counseling, and mentorship opportunities. This initiative and others like it aim to support Hispanic students, increase their enrollment, and expand their opportunities.

Already on the cusp of qualifying for Title III and V federal funding, many emerging HSIs will promote further initiatives to increase enrollment from Latino students, the report suggests. West Texas A&M University, for instance, stands at 23% Hispanic FTE and could very well qualify for official HSI status in the next few years.

The report also examines a sample of five existing HSIs with enrollments of 60% Hispanic FTE or greater, observing that many of these HSIs have already leveraged their federal funding to develop successful initiatives directed at Latino students. For example, the University of Texas – Pan American (UTPA) has more than 90% Hispanic FTE and proposes to use its Title V funding to increase experiential learning, research and study abroad opportunities, and senior internships and capstone classes.

Despite focusing on how HSIs have strengthened their institutional initiatives for Hispanic students, the report concludes that not enough is being done. The report urges HSIs to reflect on how to best serve their Hispanic students and focus their initiatives to make that service more apparent. In particular, the report offers five policy recommendations, suggesting for example that emerging HSIs should consider partnering with established HSIs to create a “mentorship” program to promote pertinent initiatives and Latino culture at their respective institutions.

“Coalition-building is the future of HSIs’ visibility and sustainability,” said Andrés Castro Samayoa, co-author of the report and a PhD research student at CMSI. “By highlighting the specific strategies used in our HSI case studies, we hope that other institutions can continue sharing their knowledge with each other.”

View the full report here.


About The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions

 The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions brings together researchers and practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. The Center’s goals include: elevating the educational contributions of MSIs; ensuring that they are a part of national conversations; bringing awareness to the vital role MSIs play in the nation’s economic development; increasing the rigorous scholarship of MSIs; connecting MSIs’ academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and strengthening efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities. For further information about the Center, please visit

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