WASHINGTON - A new report from Excelencia in Education, “Reality Check: Hispanic Serving Institutions on the Texas Border Strategizing Financial Aid”, provides significant findings and insight on higher-education issues needing urgent attention.
Texas is home to 16 percent of all Hispanics in the United States. This is also one in six Latinos in America or 37 percent of all Texans.
The Texas region bordering Mexico is among the densest Hispanic population regions in the nation. Some of the greatest higher-education successes and challenges are found here.
Recruiting, retaining and graduating the prospective and current college populations from this demographic will depend on what initiatives and innovations the participating institutions can put in place.
The results of those policy decisions directly affect the kind of economic growth, international competitive strategies and ability to attract 21st century industry to Texas and the border region in particular.
The report, made possible through support from TG Public Benefit Grant Program, provides analysis about institutional concerns and responses aimed at meeting the challenges posed by the April 2010 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s acceleration plan to close state higher-education gaps by 2015. One of the highest priorities is to focus on strategies that will increase Hispanic and African-American student participation and enrollment.
These eight border institutions have among the largest Latino enrollments and numbers of graduates in Texas and the nation. All of the institutions are located in counties along the U.S.- Mexico border. The region has among the lowest average family incomes in the country but also some important education successes.
Deborah Santiago, Vice President at Excelencia, observed these institutions “also have high concentrations of non-traditional students.”
The following Texas border institutions participated in Excelencia’s in-depth study:
· El Paso County Community College
· Laredo Community College
· South Texas College
· Texas A&M International University
· Texas Southmost College
· The University of Texas at Brownsville
· The University of Texas at El Paso
· The University of Texas Pan American
These institutions have increased access to higher education for many, despite the adversity of the recent national economic downturn. College institutional strategies were devised to address both student challenges and public financial constraints.
With the U.S. federal goal set in 2009 by President Obama, the nation seeks to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The task ahead can be daunting for some regions. For the Texas border area, making strides and facing challenges mark the present. Foundations, non-profit organizations, and state agencies all have critical roles to play. Well-placed educational investments can increase college-degree attainment and assure the region’s and the nation’s skilled workforce attain a higher level of global competitiveness.
This report comes as the Obama Administration’s 2012 budget is released and as states and institutions of higher education are working to reduce costs, make college affordable, increase efficiency and effectiveness, and demonstrate accountability for student learning outcomes.
Based on the success of selected practices by Texas border institutions The report offers the following:
The policy recommendations contained in the report represent essentials needed to move toward the goals set for the nation and the state. They provide the means to counteract the dilemma posed from having to juggle commitments to increase student access, increase retention and completion of academic programs, while locking in program-cutting budgets. Moreover, these policy recommendations align with institutional objectives to support the social and economic values for the region’s development and prosperity that underlie the education goals.
In remarks on Capitol Hill, Congressman Ruben Hinojosa called the recommendations and findings “excellent” and “timely.” The Congressman went on to highlight one element in particular, “Pell grants and direct loans have been a saving grace to middle class families” throughout the economic downturn.
Weighing into the current budget debate, Congressman Hinojosa likened budget proposals cutting education funds for the poor and middle class as akin to “taking us back to the 1990’s” in terms of our international economic competitive challenge and higher education goals.
The entire Excelencia report, “Reality Check: Hispanic Serving Institutions on the Texas Border Strategizing Financial Aid,” is available HERE
The Guarantor of Choice, TG, and its Public Benefit Program, helped support the study. TG is a public, nonprofit corporation that promotes educational success through access to motivated students to realize their college and career dreams. TG offers resources to help students and families plan and prepare for college, learn the basics of money management to help them repay their federal student loans.
Excelencia in Education accelerates higher education success for Latino students by linking research, policy and practice and by promoting education policies and institutional practices that support Latino student achievement in higher education. A national, not for profit organization, Excelencia is building a network of results-oriented educators and policymakers to address the U.S. economy’s need for a highly educated workforce and civic leadership.