A new report finds Hispanic college students across the country receive the
lowest average financial-aid awards of any ethnic group, but at the
University of Arizona, Hispanic students actually receive
higher-than-average financial aid.
Released Wednesday by Excelencia in Education and the Institute for Higher
Education Policy, the report examined financial-aid awards among different
racial or ethnic groups. The study, "How Latino Students Pay for College,"
is the first of its kind.
The study found the percentage of Hispanic students receiving financial aid
is at an all-time high, but the disparity in the average amount Hispanic
students receive has remained unchanged over the past decade.
In 2003-2004, Hispanic students received an average financial-aid award of
$6,250. The national average for all students was $6,890 and Asian students
received the most at $7,260.
At the University of Arizona, there were 3,003 Hispanic undergraduate
resident students in 2003. Of those, 2,221 applied for financial aid and
1,726, or 57 percent of the total, received some award. The average award of
need-based gift aid, which does not include work study or loans, was $5,298.
For the campus as a whole, there were 16,645 resident undergraduates in
2003. Of those, 9,953 applied for financial aid and 6,606, or 40 percent,
were awarded some aid. The average was $5,121.
"It's clear that Hispanic students are much more likely to get need-based
gift aid and the average award is greater than that of the overall
population," said Rick Kroc, director of assessment and enrollment research
at the UA.
Pima Community College doesn't track financial aid by racial groups, said
college spokeswoman Krista Neis. During the last school year, 17,061 of
Pima's roughly 60,000 students taking class for credit received financial
aid, at an average of $1,541.79. "We know that the enrollment rates of
Latino students has generally been lower than for other groups for the last
several decades," said Jamie Merisotis, president of the Institute for
Higher Education Policy. "A big factor associated with that is you've got a
very high dropout rate for Latino students in high school, which limits the
students eligible to enter higher education. Layer that in with financial
aid and this is a serious issue for access to higher education."
Hispanic students rely heavily on aid because they're the most likely to be
first-generation college students. Nearly 80 percent of Hispanic
undergraduates applied for aid in 2003-2004 and 63 percent received some
form of aid.
One reason Hispanic students lag behind others could be that more Hispanic
students attend two-year colleges, which by nature cost less and would
thereby lower financial-aid awards to students. Forty percent of Hispanic
students attend a college with tuition and fees less than $1,000, while only
about 25 percent attend a four-year institution. Also, just over half of
Latino students are enrolled part-time, the most of any group.