Hispanic-Serving Institutions

by the Inclusion, Access & Success Committee

The story of higher education in the United States and the territories it colonized cannot be told without recognizing and celebrating, among other things, the influence on and contribution to higher education from Hispanic-identifying students and educators past, present, and future. As we recognize and celebrate Hispanic heritage during this special month–and every other month– we turn our attention to the designation of “Hispanic-Serving Institution”.

What does it mean for a higher education institution to be a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI)?

An HSI is federal designation earned through being an accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institution with 25% or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment. Officially designated HSIs are eligible to receive select Title III and V grants from the federal government.

Who/what decided the eligibility terms for HSIs and who becomes a HSI?

Initially the Higher Education Act of 1965 did so, but the current designation was amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. An institution seeking this designation applies through the Department of Education’s application process becoming an “eligible institution”.

How many HSIs are there?

In the 2019-20 academic year, 569 institutions met the federal enrollment criterion. There are 362 “emerging” HSIs with FTE student enrollments that are between 15.0-24.9 percent Hispanic. Due to rapid Hispanic population growth and the increasing numbers of Hispanics pursuing postsecondary education, most of these emerging HSIs are expected to become HSIs within the next decade. (HACU website)

What does the national HSI landscape look like?

The screenshot map from HACU below outlines the location of HSI in the 50 states and Puerto Rico

What’s the HSI landscape in SACAC’s region look like?

HSIs are most heavily represented in Florida and Puerto Rico, with one HSI in Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina

What are some actions/initiatives in place to support the growth and success of HSI and the access to higher education for Hispanic students?

(Special thanks to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, whose excellent website provided much of the information outlined herein.)

If you have resources to share with SACAC for supporting Hispanic students, please share them with the Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee at access@sacac.org.

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