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Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Chris Diehl

January 22, 2016

Hispanic-Serving Institutions

When researching colleges, you need to choose the institution that fits your needs. Size, location and price are important. But Hispanic students also have the option of attending a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) - a school with an enrollment of full-time students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic. In addition, at least half of the Hispanic students must be low-income individuals.

There are currently over 300 Hispanic-serving institutions in 17 different states and Puerto Rico. HSIs educate nearly two-thirds of all Hispanic students who earn bachelor's and associate's degrees. HSIs are popular because they have affordable tuition and are able to address the needs of the growing number of Hispanic college students.

Degrees Offered

While many HSIs offer bachelor's degrees, a majority of the colleges offer associate's or post-associate's degrees as their highest degrees. Many students attend two-year HSIs to earn their associate's degree before transferring to a four-year university to complete a bachelor's degree. Students have the opportunity to save money by completing many of their general education requirements at an HSI.

Larger HSI universities also offer master's or doctoral degrees. These colleges tend to be state colleges with large student bodies that just happen to have high Hispanic populations – University of Miami, University of New Mexico, California State University at Northridge, University of Texas at San Antonio, to name a few.

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Support and Special Services

Many two-year HSIs are located in less affluent urban environments. Students tend to be from low-income families who cannot afford the tuitions of traditional four-year institutions. HSIs offer lower tuition fees plus more flexible class schedules that can accommodate student jobs.

However, this translates into smaller endowments and less money available for campus resources and programs. In order to make up the difference, a school that qualifies as an HSI is eligible to receive government aid, which they can use to alleviate these potential problems.

In addition to the libraries, labs and facilities you'd expect at all accredited colleges, the assistance also means that Hispanic-serving institutions can offer:

  • Tutoring, counseling and student services programs geared at helping students achieve academic success
  • An endowment fund, plus scholarship opportunities
  • Child care
  • Job and college placement programs
  • Labs to help students strengthen their skills in English, reading and math

Another advantage of HSIs is their understanding of Hispanic student issues. They know how to address the needs and concerns of their student body, many of whom are first-generation college students. And, like all colleges, they help prepare their students for the challenges of the professional world.


Students are attracted to Hispanic-serving institutions because they tend to offer a flexible academic environment that fits into a student's unique needs. Enrolled students might include: single mothers with school age children, students who are well-schooled but don't know English, students who know English but need other skills, high school graduates and students who did not graduate from high school.

Many schools have open enrollment, but students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to stay enrolled. Students are not required to speak English fluently, and they often reach college-level language proficiency by the time they complete their degree.

HSIs offer a unique approach to education by creating an environment of support and culture - at an affordable price. Visit an HSI and see if it is the right match for you.

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