Mar 7, 2024 - World

Fewer Latino students consider leaving college, but barriers remain

Illustration of a line chart on a college pennant.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The percentage of Hispanic college students who said they considered leaving school in 2023 dropped significantly from the previous year, according to a Gallup report released last week.

Why it matters: The lower rates indicate attendance by Hispanic students is rebounding after having sagged during the earlier stages of the pandemic, Astrid writes.

  • But although Hispanic and Black students have made wide gains in college degree attainment, they still lag significantly behind their white peers.
  • The Gallup poll helps show policymakers and educators what's behind the disparities, says Courtney Brown, vice president of impact and planning at Lumina Foundation, an organization focused on making college accessible to everyone.

By the numbers: About 1,000 Hispanic students enrolled in college participated in the Gallup poll, which was done on behalf of Lumina Foundation.

  • 42% of Hispanic respondents said they considered leaving college in 2023, compared to 52% who said the same in 2022.
  • 40% of Black participants said they considered stopping school in 2023, as did 31% of white students.
  • There wasn't sufficient data to report on Asian, American Indian and Alaska Native students, per Gallup.

Zoom in: A majority of all the students who considered leaving school said it was because of emotional stress, although more than a quarter of Hispanic students also cited feeling like the don't belong — the highest among any demographic.

  • 15% of Hispanic students said they stopped school because of caregiving responsibilities, a much higher rate than among non-Hispanic respondents.
  • The study also surveyed people who are not enrolled in college, finding that Hispanic and Black students are more interested in certificate and associate degree programs than in bachelor's degrees.

What they're saying: "Essentially one in three students is at risk of leaving and maybe never coming back," says Stephanie Marken, executive director for education research at Gallup.

  • The rate of Hispanic and Black students who thought about leaving college improved last year, the fact that it's so much higher than for white students "really sets us back when we think about improving attainment for those populations," Marken says.

The bottom line: Financial assistance is what is most important in helping Latino students stay in school, Brown says.

  • "The data continue to show that Black, Hispanic, Latino students value education very highly," she adds. "It's not that they don't value it and want it and know that they need it. It is just hard for them to access."

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