New Study Released Finds Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholars Graduate at Higher Rates Than National Average
Study also reveals barriers to graduation and best practices in increasing educational attainment among Latinos
San Francisco, CA. February 2007–A recent study found that 80 percent of Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) scholarship recipients graduated within five and a half years – a graduation rate that is almost 30 percent higher than the national average for students of all races and ethnicities for the same period. The six-year national graduation rate for all Hispanics students at four-year institutions is 43.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.
The first of its kind research, conducted by MPR Associates, Inc., one of the nation's leading education consulting firms, also provided insight into barriers for students and best practices for educational attainment. According to the MPR study, HSF scholarships played a significant role in helping scholars persist in college. Scholars supported by HSF worked less than most students, enabling them to focus more on their academic tasks. On average, they worked 10 hours less a week when compared with students sampled in other studies. Financial hardship is cited as the principal reason so many Latinos discontinue their education, according to numerous studies. HSF support diminished the fiscal pressures these students faced, the researchers concluded.
The MPR study assessed the high school, college and post-collegiate experiences of a representative sample of HSF scholarship recipients. One group of scholars surveyed consisted of HSF scholarship recipients who were first-time freshmen at four-year institutions in 2000-2001; the second one was comprised of HSF scholarship recipients who were seniors at four-year universities in 1999-2000.
Of the freshman group, 68 percent were first generation college students and 71 percent were from low-income families; of the seniors, 58 percent were first generation and 72 percent were low-income. The total number of students surveyed was 676 for both groups combined.
“HSF has focused on ensuring that every one of our programs is delivering results and providing Latino students with the support needed to accomplish their goals,” said Christopher E. Jones, HSF Chief Operating Officer. “The results reported in this independent assessment demonstrate that our student-centric approach is working and, most importantly, are providing us with further insight on where we need to focus to increase Latino educational attainment. The big challenge today is to find more resources so we can impact a larger portion of the nation’s burgeoning Hispanic population.”
The MPR study also concluded that:
- HSF scholarships have a dramatic impact on students’ feeling of support and encouragement. In addition to the financial contribution, being recognized and supported by the Latino community is highly valued by HSF Scholars.
- HSF Scholars did very well academically in college. The average GPA (on a four-point scale) for seniors participating in the study was 3.6, and 3.3 for the freshmen group.
- Access to information is essential to pre-college decision-making.Students reported that information and resources describing college requirements, testing for college entrance, and scholarships and financial aid were essential to planning for and deciding to apply for college admission. Furthermore, while in college, scholars continued to access resources such as financial aid and academic advisors. HSF support for such services will enhance prospects of graduation from college.
- Strong academic preparation and parental support are critical to success in college. Scholars’ success in college is characterized by good high school preparation and having access to college preparatory classes and exams. HSF Scholars reported strong parental support – both for their aspirations to attend college and as they worked their way through the challenges of the postsecondary experience.
- Community colleges are an important higher education resource for Latinos. Forty percent who participated in the study reported they took courses in these local institutions to either supplement or complement their four-year college preparation.
- Young women have greater difficulties while in college than young men. They receive less financial support from parents and fewer non-HSF scholarships in their fourth year of college. Female scholars interviewed noted that it was difficult to pursue non-traditional fields of study, inhibiting their post-graduate career options.
- Young men are less likely to make it into the college pipeline (as suggested in the number of HSF scholarships awarded to males). More effort needs to be directed toward helping young Latino males learn about and apply to college.
SF requested the independent analysis to assess the impact of its work. It is part of HSF’s ongoing efforts to hold itself accountable and ensure that best practices are being utilized in all its work. The study validates HSF’s practice of providing an array of services that extend beyond scholarships. HSF provides comprehensive outreach programs involving parents and students from middle school to high school that offer vital information for keeping students on the college track and educate them on the resources available to pay for a higher education. HSF also has created a scholar support network for college students with a mentoring program that involves HSF alumni.
About the Hispanic Scholarship Fund
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the nation’s leading organization supporting Hispanic higher education. Founded in 1975, HSF’s vision is to strengthen the country by advancing college education among Hispanic Americans, the largest minority segment of the U.S. population. In support of its mission to double the rate of Hispanics earning college degrees, HSF, a 501(c)3 not-for profit organization, provides the Latino community more college scholarships and educational outreach support than any other organization in the country. During its 31-year history, HSF has awarded more than 78,000 scholarships totaling in excess of $195 million to Latinos from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam who have attended more than 1,700 colleges and universities.
About MPR Associates, Inc.
MPR Associates, Inc. (http://www.mprinc.com/) is one of the nation's leading education research consulting firms that is dedicated to strengthening elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education and expanding opportunities for youth and adults. For more than 20 years, MPR has made major contributions through its studies of school reform, high school dropouts, vocational-technical education, adult education, teachers, instructional practices, accountability and standards, curriculum integration, student financial aid, and access, persistence, and degree attainment in postsecondary education. The bulk of MPR’s publications are reports that MPR staff have authored or co-authored for public clients like the U.S. Department of Education.