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Texas Border Schools Lead Nation in Hispanic Degree Achievement

Texas institutions of higher education along the border boast record numbers of Hispanic student enrollment and degree completion likely because their use of certain practices to narrow enrollment and graduation gaps between Hispanics and other students, according to a new report released today.

The report from Excelencia in Education examines eight colleges and universities along the U.S.-Mexico border and identifies common practices these schools use to recruit and graduate Hispanics students. These institutions collaborated with high schools to improve college readiness, created “early warning” systems that identified students at risk of dropping out of college, and offered grants encouraging on-time graduation, according to the report, “Accelerating Latino Student Success at Texas Border Institutions: Possibilities and Challenges.”

Eight border institutions enroll 10 percent of all students at Texas’ public colleges and universities, but more than 30 percent of the state’s Hispanic students. And these schools — four universities and four community colleges — increased their enrollment of Hispanic students by 35 percent from 2000 to 2005, compared with 22 percent statewide.

“We believe that every state has a border to cross when it comes to educating the Latino population,” says Sarita E. Brown, president of Excelencia in Education. “Our look at these eight institutions show both what is working in making college a reality for Latino students and what must be done to improve our efforts on this critical issue.”

To recruit and graduate more Hispanics in Texas, the report recommends creating a statewide plan to increase Hispanic enrollment, increasing funding to border schools, replicating the eight schools’ successful institutional practices to enroll Hispanic students and expanding need-based financial aid.

Increasing Hispanic student participation in higher education is essential to meeting America’s need for skilled workers. “Neither Texas nor the United States can meet its human capital needs without increasing the number of Latino students who get to and through college,” says Sue McMillin, president and CEO of TG, a Texas-based nonprofit that administers the Federal Family Education Loan Program and helped support the study.

The schools profiled in the report are the University of Texas at Brownsville, the University of Texas at El Paso, University of Texas-Pan American, Texas A&M International University, Texas Southmost College, El Paso County Community College District, South Texas College, Laredo Community College.

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