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With a population more than twice as Hispanic as the national average, California has a lower-than-average proportion of Hispanics with college or university educations, and no institution among the top five for awarding them degrees, according to a new study.
The state is 38 percent Hispanic, compared to the national average of 17 percent. But only 16 percent of adults aged 25 or older have degrees, compared to the national average for Hispanics of 20 percent, the study, by the advocacy organization Excelencia in Education, finds.
“Why does California, the state with the largest Latino population in the nation, not have a single college break into the top five nationally for awarding degrees to Latinos?” asked Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education’s chief operating officer and vice president for policy.
It’s an increasingly important question as more Hispanics head to college. Nearly a quarter of students from kindergarten through Grade 12 are Hispanic nationwide, and more than half in California and New Mexico and nearly half in Texas.
The study finds that the gap in graduation rates between Hispanics and whites nationally is shrinking. Forty-one percent of Hispanics got two-year-associate’s degrees within three years or four-year bachelor’s degrees within six, compared to 50 percent of whites. That’s a difference of 9 percentage points, down from 14 percentage points two years go.
But the study says Hispanics will need to earn another 5.5 million degrees above current levels for the United States to regain its place as the nation with the greatest college attainment. Today, it’s fallen to 14th in the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with a higher education, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.