How to help more Hispanic students enroll in, afford, and complete college


Studies by the E3 Alliance show that students who graduate with a four-year degree are more likely to earn more than their peers who didn’t enroll in college at all. But many students have barriers to college, even when they have excelled academically. The Hispanic Scholarship Consortium works to remove those barriers for Hispanic students and support them in their pursuit of a degree.

While HSC is still counting the applications from students, which were due on April 30, it expects hundreds based on the numbers it’s received in past years. Last year alone, it received 560 applications, which volunteers helped narrow down to 180, says  Ashley Alaniz-Moyer, executive director of HSC.

Each of those spots is funded by a consortium member, such as the Hispanic Bar Association or another nonprofit like Con Mi Madre, with funds matched by the HSC. But there’s more to the scholarship than the financial gift, which ranges from $1,000 – $2,000 a year for up to four years. HSC also pairs students with mentors, enrolls them in multi-day leadership training programs, and provides guidance from professionals who specialize in supporting first-generation college students. About 70 percent of last year’s scholars were first-generation. That’s why the support services are key to the mission, said Joe Pelayo, board chair of HSC. “This gives them a lot of life skills and toolsets not only for the college experience but the life experience also,” he said.

Having more Hispanic students enroll in and complete college can boost the overall economy in Central Texas, if those students return after graduating. And not having them complete a four-year degree can have devastating effects.  In the latest report from the E3 Alliance, a nonprofit that tracks data on Central Texas education, notes that right now almost half of all public school students are Hispanic. Compare that to their other data that shows the number of them who go on to enroll in college: just less than half for the high school class of 2017.  E3 also reports that young adults who don’t earn some type of postsecondary credential only have a 12% chance of earning a living wage.

Academic achievement in high school is a critical part of the selection process, but so are other factors, including financial need, community service, personal strengths, and leadership. HSC’s services are not limited to financial aid, but Alaniz-Moyer says that 64 percent of HSC students come from households that earn less than $50,000 a year.  

Despite the barriers incoming scholarship recipients may have faced, Alaniz-Moyer says HSC has a 98 percent graduation rate. Most students pursue a bachelor’s degree but 12 percent of last year’s recipients chose to pursue a law degree.

For many of these students, the support from people beyond their families can be critical. HSC student Rodolfo Rodriguez, a graduate from the University of Texas in 2013, said, “Through HSC I was able to connect to people across all of Texas and this allowed me to remember what home felt like.”

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