UnidosUS Releases Higher Education Policy Agenda to Advance Latinos’ Postsecondary Success

Pandemic’s exacerbation of systemic inequities has led to the first decline in Latino enrollment in a decade

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza) released its report, A Path Forward for Latinos: Laying the Groundwork for Equity in Higher Education, a publication that lays out a series of goals and policy recommendations to restore equity in the higher education system and ensure it meets the needs of historically underserved students, including low-income and students of color.

Latino students have made notable gains in education in the last decade, including a double digit increase in college enrollment. However, Latino students’ drive to enroll and complete a postsecondary degree has been met with numerous barriers. Tuition increases, state disinvestment in higher education, stagnant wages and a rising cost-of-living have all hindered educational attainment. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic’s exacerbation of existing systemic inequities has led to the first decline in Latino post-secondary enrollment in a decade, with 2020 seeing a 6 percent drop. UnidosUS’s policy agenda is a blueprint to meaningfully address the barriers facing Latino students at all points of their higher education journey with recommendations focused on addressing issues of affordability, gaps in access and limited academic and cultural support to boost students’ opportunities for success.

“More Latino students may be pursuing a postsecondary degree than a decade ago, but the pandemic compounded pre-existing barriers to college completion and the financial stress is dashing the dreams of these students. Deep-seated and institutionalized inequality in our higher education system is undermining Latino students’ path to academic success and greater economic opportunity,” said Eric Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS. “Our agenda seeks to course-correct through robust policies that promote equity and opportunity in our higher education institutions. We call on congressional leaders to work with the new Biden-Harris administration to do right by our nation’s students and our future workforce.”

The eight goals include:

  1. Make high-quality colleges and universities more affordable for high-need students.
  2. Make it simple and easy for economically disadvantaged students and parents to access and understand financial aid.
  3. Ensure equitable enrollment and admissions processes across all public colleges and universities.
  4. Increase degree attainment by investing in academic and comprehensive support programs for Latinos.
  5. Ensure that Latino students earn quality degrees across all institutions.
  6. Make student loans manageable and less of a financial risk to borrowers.
  7. Ensure that racial and ethnic opportunity gaps in higher education are addressed by requiring institutions to report and use student outcome measures to improve equity.
  8. Diversify the teacher workforce to improve Latino student outcomes.

To view A Path Forward for Latinos: Laying the Groundwork for Equity in Higher Education, please click here.