A new U.S. Census Bureau report shows that after several years of gains, college enrollments in the U.S. fell between 2011 and 2012. But for one group—Hispanics—college enrollments were up, reflecting Hispanic population growth along with a growing share of young Latinos prepared for college. The new Census Bureau data also shows Hispanic students reached other milestones in 2012, continuing recent upward trends in educational attainment and college attendance.
While the share of recent Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college has surpassed that of whites, the same is not true among all young people ages 18 to 24. Because Hispanics have a higher high school dropout rate than whites, the share of all Hispanics ages 18 to 24 in college lags that of whites – 37.5% among Hispanics compared with 42.1% among whites.
3. The number of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanics enrolled in college increased by 324,000 students between 2011 and 2012, marking the third straight year of increases. The number of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college has reached a new high—2.4 million—and has been growing since 2009. By contrast, the number of non-Hispanics enrolled in college fell between 2011 and 2012. Overall, Hispanics make up 19% of all college students ages 18 to 24, up from 12% in 2008.
Despite these recent milestones, Latinos continue to lag other groups when it comes to earning a bachelor’s degree. In 2012, 14.5% of Latinos ages 25 and older had earned one. By contrast, 51% of Asians, 34.5% of whites and 21.2% of blacks had earned a bachelor’s degree. Hispanic college students are also less likely than whites to enroll in a four-year college, attend a selective college, and enroll full-time.
Even so, education is important to Hispanics. Today, a record share of Hispanic young people are prepared for college, Latino voters say education is a top issue, and Latinos are more likely than the general public to say a college degree as key to life success.