Missouri College Cuts Tuition for Undocumented Students

The state of Missouri does not provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students by law at its public higher education institutions — but that isn’t stopping one college from taking action on its own.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that St. Louis Community College has decided to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students. That will cut the tuition rate from the international rate of $209 to $98 for students local to the college’s area and $144 for other Missouri residents.

Since community colleges have much lower tuition than universities they are often the only place affordable for undocumented students. Undocumented students are still not eligible for federal financial aid.

“The door is cracked open a little bit for some students,” Faith Sandler, executive director of the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, told the newspaper. “It’s a great move on the part of the community college. Hopefully, others will follow.”

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is also considering cutting tuition rates for undocumented students. College officials said that it was rare that any undocumented student was able to pay out-of-state tuition to attend the college.

Students who were granted “deferred action childhood arrival,” or deferred action, will benefit from the change. It will be interesting to see if other states or colleges make similar action due to the deferred action policy, which will allow qualified students to stay in the United States for work and study.

The program, “Universidad Ya!/College Now!” based in St. Louis, supported the decision by the community college. The organization’s president, Washington Spanish professor Virginia Braxs, told the Riverfront Times that the move is a step forward. She noted that many of her students must support themselves by working through college.

“This community of young people is graduating from high school,” she said. “They face huge barriers. They make great sacrifices — all my students work part time through high school and college to contribute to their families.”

Related Links:

“St. Louis Community College Slashes Tuition Rates for Undocumented Students,” St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“STLCC: Undocumented Students with U.S. High School Diplomas Can Pay In-State Tuition,” Riverfront Times Blog.

Universidad YA! College NOW!

“Immigrant Students Seek Va. In-State Tuition Rate,” Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

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Eva Longoria Funds UCLA Study on Latinas and Education

Latina teens who are bilingual, have Hispanic teachers and counselors, and are involved in extracurricular activities have a stronger likelihood of attending college, a new study has found.

The report, “Making Education Work for Latinas in the U.S.,” was conducted by The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles, and commissioned by the actress Eva Longoria and her foundation.

Longoria’s foundation focuses on boosting education and entrepreneurship among Latinas. She hopes to use the report’s findings to better help Latinas.

Civil Rights Project co-director and education professor Patricia Gandara highlighted the importance of raising the education levels of Hispanic women.

“Latinas are the linchpin of the next generation — how a child fares in school is highly correlated with their mother’s education,” Gándara said in a news release. “If the cycle of under-education is to be broken for the Latino population, it will depend to a large extent on changing the fortunes of young women.”

Latinas benefit from involvement in extracurricular activities, which promote increased self-esteem. However, they face barriers to being more involved at school that include money, transportation issues, family needs and not feeling included.

The study shares that many Latinas enroll in non-selective two-year colleges because they are not aware of the greater opportunities at more selective four-year universities. Students who enroll in community college are less likely to graduate with degrees.

The paper includes the success stories of seven young Latinas. One of the young women recalled the influence of a Hispanic counselor.

“She was a person who really influenced me to want something more with my 
life because she would tell me that because I was a Latina that I would be stereotyped..you don’t want to prove people right,you want to prove them wrong! You want to be able to say ‘I’m Latina and I’m going to college and I’m furthering my education!”

Related Links:

“UCLA Study Funded by Eva Longoria IDs Factors That Improve Educational Outcomes for Latinas,” UCLA Newsroom.

“Making Education Work for Latinas in the U.S.,” The Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

The Eva Longoria Foundation

‘Juntos’ Programs Target Teens and Parents

A growing number of school districts and universities are working together to push more Latino youth to pursue a college education.

At the same time, school districts also are seeking to boost Latino parent involvement.

A program called Juntos, which means “together” in Spanish, tackles both goals. The program originated at North Carolina State University and now is being replicated at middle and high schools in several states. It is intended for students in the eighth- through twelfth-grades.

As part of the program, Latino teens and their parents attend a six-week-long series of workshops that tackle topics including goal-setting, the college admissions process and seeking financial aid for college.

The Tulsa World newspaper reports that Oklahoma State University and the Tulsa Public Schools are now partnering to implement the program.

“Many Latino parents don’t know how to navigate the American education system and because of where they come from, these parents see the school as the one in power,” said Antonio Marín, a grant coordinator at Oklahoma State. “They need to know they can come to the school to talk to the principal and the teacher and the counselor, and that college is an option for their kids.”

Oregon State University is also leading a Juntos program for students in Madras, Oregon. It is part of the university’s “Open Campus” initiative, which aims to work with K-12 schools, colleges and local government to create higher education opportunities.

Open Campus coordinator Jennifer Oppenlander told KTVZ News that involving parents and their children in the activities makes the program distinctive.

“By attending Juntos together, the experience gives families a comfort level and makes them feel as if they have a support group,” she said.

Are colleges and school districts in your community partnering to work together on similar programs? If not, what is the state of relations between K12 and higher education institutions in your community?

Related Links:

“Juntos Initiative Helps Tulsa Latino Students Succeed,” Tulsa World.

“OSU Program Preps Madras Latinos for College,” KTVZ.com.

“Juntos Summit Unites Latino Students in Quest for Higher Education and Rewarding Careers,” North Carolina State University News Center.

– The Juntos Program

Various Factors Discourage Latino Students From AP Courses

Latino students may be discouraged from enrolling in Advanced Placement courses for a number of reasons.

Students’ perceptions can impact their decisions. They may have a lack of knowledge about the classes or have the impression that the classes will be too challenging.

Other factors are outside of students’ control: teachers and administrators may decide who is allowed–and not allowed– to enroll in such courses.

“Many teachers don’t truly believe that these programs are for all kids or that students of color or low-income kids can succeed in these classes,” Christina Theokas, director of research at The Education Trust, told the New York Times in an article on the subject.

Despite such discouragement, more Latino, black and low-income students are enrolling in AP courses than in the past.

There is criticism of the program, too. Some say AP courses have become watered down as more students have enrolled. Others question whether simply enrolling greater numbers of students in AP courses will make them perform any better in college.

If you are interested in delving further into data on Hispanic student performance, check out the College Board’s annual AP Report to the Nation.

In addition, you can also look into requesting data from your local school district on how many Hispanic students are enrolled in specific AP courses, and what their passing rates (generally considered a 3 or higher) are on the actual exam. Pay particular attention to how many students are taking AP courses in the areas of math and science.

Related Links:

“Pulling a More Diverse Group of Achievers Into the Advanced Placement Pool,” The New York Times.
9th Annual AP Report to the Nation, College Board.

Report Emphasizes Importance of Latino College Completion in California

Latinos in California have “unacceptably low rates” of college completion that must improve in order for the state to have a strong future, a new report says.

The report, “The State of Latinos in Higher Education in California,” was conducted by the nonprofit group The Campaign for College Opportunity.

The most stark fact illustrating the challenge is that in 2011, only about 11 percent of Latino adults ages 25 or older held a bachelor’s degree in the state, compared with 39 percent of white adults.

On the positive side, Diverse Issues in Higher Education reported that Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the campaign, noted that “surveys continue to confirm that Latinos have very high aspirations. Latino parents are very supportive of their children getting a college education. In fact, 92 percent of them believe that a college education is very important.”

While more Latinos are graduating high school, that isn’t necessarily leading them to graduate from college.

While many Latinos feel attending college is important, the study points out several factors that hinder their chance of finishing. Among those potential barriers, Latinos are less likely to enroll in a four-year university, less likely to attend a selective college, less likely to enroll full-time, or to complete a bachelor’s degree.

The group makes a number of recommendations for improving outcomes for Latino students. The list includes creating a statewide plan for higher education, investing in student services, increasing funding for higher education, strengthening the state’s financial aid program, and improving the relationship between K12 and higher education entities.

The report also suggests that the state create benchmarks based on Latino enrollment and publicize progress made toward those goals.

According to the study, about 94 percent of California’s Latinos under the age of 18 were born in the United States. When Latinos attend college, they are more likely to attend community colleges. According to state data, of the state’s freshman Latino students in fall 2012, there were 118,727 enrolled in community colleges, 23,046 enrolled in the California State University system, and 8,747 in the University of California system.

Many Latino students who enroll in community colleges must take remedial courses in order to be college-ready, and studies show those students are less likely to finish college. According to California state data, only about four in 10 Latino students complete community colleges in six years. Additionally, of those Latinos who complete community college and enroll in the California State University system only about 63 percent earn a bachelor’s degree within four years.

Meanwhile, well-prepared Latino students attending the UC system fare better: almost 74 percent graduate within six years, and 46 percent in four years. Additionally, almost 82 percent of Latino community college transfers to the UC system graduate in four years.

Related Links:

– “The State of Latinos in Higher Education in California,” The Campaign for College Opportunity.

“California’s Low Latino College Completion Rate Imperils State’s Future,” Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

“For Economy’s Sake, Latinos Need College Push,” San Diego Union Tribune.

Documentary Tells Story of Latino Teens

The first part of a compelling new documentary chronicling the lives of six young Latino teens premieres tonight (Monday) on PBS.

The documentary, created by filmmakers from the Quiet Pictures production company, will be shown on the program Independent Lens and will be broadcast at 10/9 CT. You can check your local listings to confirm the time.  (As a disclaimer, I was asked for some feedback related to the discussion guides that accompany the documentary, but did not participate in editing or creating the documentary.)

Each young person profiled in the film experiences a personal challenge that endangers their chances of graduating from high school, yet overcomes them. Those issues include teen pregnancy, homelessness, and undocumented immigrant status, among other challenges.

Tonight, the viewers meet three young women in the “Girls Hour” of the program — Chastity, Darlene and Stephanie.

On Tuesday, the program will be rebroadcast online and will also feature a live chat with filmmaker Katia Maguire and a student from the film, Chastity Salas. Damary Bonilla-Rodriguez from the nonprofit Girls Inc. will moderate.

Related Links:

– “The Graduates/Los Graduados,” Independent Lens.

SAT Scores Show Hispanics Lag in College Readiness

The SAT college entrance exam picture for Hispanic students is mixed, based on 2013 data released Thursday by the College Board.

Hispanics have increased to 17 percent of test takers. Yet only about 23.5 percent of Latino students were deemed college ready based on their scores, a slight increase over the prior year.

The overall national average is also frustrating. For the past five years, the overall average college readiness of test takers has hovered at 43 percent.

The board set a benchmark score of 1550 as the score, the score they say at which there is a 65 percent likelihood that a student will have a college freshman year GPA of B- or higher. The overall average score was 1498 out of a possible 2400.

Students who tested ready for college were more likely to have taken a core curriculum, AP courses, high-level math courses such as calculus, and be in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.

Hispanics tended to lag in being academically prepared for the SAT exam. Among Hispanics who took the SAT exam, about 70 percent took a core curriculum, 56 percent reported taking AP courses, and 36 percent reported that they had “A” average grades.

College Board officials continue to push to increase the participation rates of minority students. Their efforts are not without criticism. Bob Schaeffer of Fair Test told National Public Radio that the board’s efforts are a marketing ploy.

Reflecting the country’s shifting demographics, the Texas Education Agency reported that more Hispanic public school students took the exam than white students. There were 59,294 Hispanic students taking the exam and 58,307 white students. Hispanics already make up the majority of students attending Texas schools.

Also on Thursday, The New York Times reported on a new program being launched by the College Board that is seeking to motivate more minority and low-income students to apply to elite colleges and universities.

The board is sending information packets including application fee waivers to six colleges to 28,000 high school seniors with an SAT or PSAT score in the top 15 percent of people tested but the bottom quarter of income distribution.

Recent studies have shown that even high-performing Latino, black and low-income students do not apply to the competitive admission colleges that they are qualified to attend. The Times reported that a recent study by University of Virginia researchers found that providing more college information in mailed packets to low-income students influences college application decisions.

At the time, College Board President David Coleman told the Times, ““We can’t stand by as students, particularly low-income students, go off track and don’t pursue the opportunities they have earned.”

Related Links:

“2013 SAT Report on College & Career Readiness”
“College Board ‘Concerned’ About Low SAT Scores,” NPR.
“Record Number of Minorities Take SAT But Lag in College Readiness.”
“A Nudge to Poorer Students to Aim High on Colleges,” The New York Times.
“A Simple Way to Send Poor Kids to Top Colleges,” The New York Times.

Latino College Enrollment Surges as Overall Enrollment Falls

Higher numbers of Latinos are enrolling in college than ever before — even as overall college enrollment in the United States is falling.

The findings were released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday. The number of Hispanics enrolled in college increased to 3.4 million in 2012, an increase of 15 percent over the previous year, Reuters reported. Hispanic students now make up 17 percent of college students.

Meanwhile, overall college enrollment fell by about 2.3 percent, to 19.9 million. Much of the decline came from older students.

The Pew Research Center details other recent positive news contained in the report. The Hispanic high school dropout rate is falling. In 2012, about 15 percent of Hispanics ages 18 to 24 had not completed high school. The percentage in 2000 was significantly higher, at 32 percent.

“Overall, the Hispanic dropout rate is falling more quickly than any other racial or ethnic group, resulting in a closing of the gap between Hispanics and blacks, white non-Hispanics and Asians,” Pew noted.

The Census Bureau report found that 49 percent of Hispanic high school graduates ages 18 to 24 are enrolled in college, compared with 47 percent of whites. Immigrant students and children of immigrants made up about 32 percent of college students.

More students are in the pipeline. About 24 percent of elementary school students in the U.S. are Hispanic.

The news is encouraging, but there still is a long way to go to close the education gap, demonstrated by another recent report by Pew focusing on the low college attainment rates of Latinos. The college attainment levels vary widely depending on which state you reside in.

An analysis of Census data by the Pew Research Center provides a state-by-state breakdown on the bachelor’s degree attainment rates of Latinos ages 25 and older in 2011. The national average for all Hispanics was 13.4 percent.

On the high end of the list was the District of Columbia (36.2 percent). The low end was Nevada (8.1 percent). Many of the most heavily Hispanic states fall under the national average. They include California (10.7 percent) and Texas (12.0 percent). Florida was an exception (20.4 percent).

The source of data was the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey data. It’s important to note that these number include immigrants with low levels of education from their home countries.

As you may recall, last May Pew released a study showing that a higher percentage of Hispanic high school graduates in the Class of 2012 (69 percent) enrolled in college than white graduates (67 percent).

Related Links:

– “After a Recent Upswing, College Enrollment Declines, Census Bureau Reports,” United States Census Bureau.

– “Hispanic Enrollment in U.S. Colleges up 15 Percent,” Reuters.

– “Among Recent High School Grads, Hispanic College Enrollment Rate Surpasses that of Whites,” Pew Research Center.

– “D.C., Virginia and Maryland Have the Highest Shares of College-Educated Latinos,” Pew Research Center.

– “Hispanic High School Graduates Pass Whites in Rate of College Enrollment,” Pew Research Center.

University of Texas Launches Initiative To Help Latino Males

A recently launched initiative in Texas will bring together school districts, community colleges and universities in an effort to improve education outcomes for Latino and black male students.

The Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color will be based at the University of Texas at Austin and seeks to encourage Texas higher education institutions to create “male-focused student programs” that address state goals in increasing the success of minority male students.

The group is pursuing several objectives. It will work to hold meetings and student summits around the issue. The program also hopes to identify and build successful male mentoring programs. The group also hopes to serve as a resource center through which best practices can be shared.

The consortium will be led by UT education professor Victor Saenz. He is also the executive director of Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success), which I have blogged about before.

The consortium is supported in part by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating  Board, which has a “Closing the Gaps” initiative that aims to increase college enrollment in the state. and close gaps by 2015. In the latest 2013 spring progress report, the board found that there is a growing gender gap in college enrollment and Hispanic males in particular have the lowest participation rate.

According to the report, in fall 2012, only about 4.1 percent of the Hispanic male population Texas participated in higher education, which was 1.7 percent below the rate of female Hispanics. It would take about 88,000 more male Hispanic students to enroll to catch up to female Hispanic students.

Additionally, the report finds that about 47 percent of Hispanic males who graduated from high school in 2012 went directly to college the following fall, compared with 56 percent of Hispanic females.

Related Links:

– “UT Austin Launches Texas Consortium to Improve Outcomes for Male Minority Students,” Press Release.

– Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success). 

– “Researchers Call Attention to the Educational ‘State of Crisis’ Facing Latino Males,” Latino Ed Beat.

– “Closing the Gaps Spring 2013 Progress Report,” Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Latino College Enrollment and Graduation Rates Improving

A new brief by The Education Trust celebrates the spike in college enrollment by Latino students, but calls attention to the need to improve six-year graduation rates.

Between 2009 and 2011, Latino undergraduate enrollment at four-year colleges and universities increased by about 22 percent — from 949,304 students to 1,158,268. Black student enrollment increased by 8.5 percent to 1,158,268 and white enrollment increased by 2.7 percent to 6,090,212.

Between 2009 and 2011, the six-year graduation rate for Latino students improved to 51 percent, growing by 4.7 percent. The graduation rate for black students was 39.9 percent and for white students was 62.1 percent.

Using data form the U.S. Department of Education, The Education Trust has created an online database of data called College Results Online. The online tool allows users to review college-specific data and to compare colleges to their peer group of similar institutions.

The group has identified those colleges that are performing best and worst with minority students. For  example, at Stony Brook University Hispanic students are graduating at higher rates than white students. The six-year rate for Latinos is now about 66.5 percent.

The brief highlights Michigan State University for not doing well with Latino students. Hispanic students are graduating at a six-year rate of 61.5 percent, compared to 80.9 percent for white students.

The brief also said that selective admissions do not necessarily result in student success.

Related Links:

– “Intentionally Successful: Improving Minority Student College Graduation Rates,” The Education Trust. 

– College Results Online