Report: Barriers Contribute to Lower College Attainment Rates, Wages Among Latinos

By Allie Bidwell, Communications Staff

Despite the fact that the proportion of Latino students enrolling in college has grown faster than most other races and ethnicities, they’re lagging behind when it comes to postsecondary attainment levels, according to a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

The slower growth in college attainment rates, the report said, has also contributed to lower earnings among Latinos. Just 21 percent of Latinos in the country have a bachelor’s degree, the report said, compared with 32 percent of African Americans, and 45 percent of whites. And since 1992, Latino postsecondary degree attainment overall has only increased by 10 percentage points, from 35 percent to 45 percent, compared with a 16 percentage point increase for whites, and a 22 percentage point increase among African Americans.

Even the highest-achieving Latino students have lower college completion rates, the report found. Latino students with high scores on standardized tests enroll in college at similar rates as their white peers, but 63 percent of these students complete a degree or other credential, compared with 78 percent of white students with similar test scores.

“The story of Latino families in America honors an intergenerational striving to achieve full inclusion in our society, and it is their turn,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the center and lead author of the report, in a statement. “With access to the right college and career guidance, Latinos can keep running faster toward a promising future that awaits.”

Still, even when Latino students do obtain a postsecondary degree or credential, they’re more likely to work in jobs requiring lower levels of education, according to the report. Overall, Latinos represent 16 percent of the workforce, but make up 20 percent of workers in jobs requiring no more than a high school education. Latinos overall hold 10 percent of jobs that require at least some postsecondary education, 9 percent of jobs that require a bachelor’s degree, and 7 percent of jobs that require a graduate degree.

The report also identified wage disparity between Latinos and their white peers. However, while the report found that factors such as country of origin and English language ability contributed to the wage disparity, those factors did not fully explain the gap. Rather, that earnings gap stems from differences in access to “informal information networks,” formal counseling, other forms of social capital, and lingering discrimination, the report said.

“Latinos often start at a disadvantage –– many of their parents haven’t gone to college,” said Megan Fasules, a co-author of the report and research economist at the center. “These students may also have difficulty navigating the financial aid process, so it’s imperative that we close the information gap.”


Publication Date: 10/11/2017

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