Hispanic College Enrollment Needs Boost

The Hispanic population in our area continues to grow at a fast rate, but this trend does not carry over to university enrollment.

The latest report from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board shows enrollment from this ethnic group falls short by 310,000 students statewide.

This is prompting one area university to take on new efforts, in the coming years, to become a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).

"Millions of dollars are available to assist the institution that is recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution," noted Dan Garcia, Vice President of Enrollment at West Texas A&M University. "Those dollars are going to benefit all students. Whether they pay for programs, facilities, instruction, all students are going to benefit from those monies."

The university needs to increase its Hispanic enrollment by 7 percent to become an HSI. Once it has the designation, WT would qualify for federal funds. Which Garcia says could be used for hiring bilingual professors and diversifying the curriculum.

At amarillo college, at least one out of every four students is Hispanic. Making this school the only hispanic serving institution in our area.  With the designation, the college is able to compete for federal grants...money they say is important to keep tuition low and academic standards high.

"There's a lot of money out there. We were the recipients of a title 5 co-op grant. This grant has provided about $500,000 dollars a year in federal funding," said Bob Austin, Dean of Enrollment at AC.

Over the next six years, the board says Hispanic enrollment needs to double. They says if this goal is met the state's economy could experience a $489 billion boost in total spending. In addition, the increase enrollment would create more than a million new jobs.

In our area, both WT and Amarillo college officials say the health care and education industries could be the most benefited, as more Hispanic students pursue those careers.