AIR Expert Mark Schneider Co-Authors Study Finding That 51 Percent of Hispanics Graduate College in Six Years

Washington, D.C. – A new study co-authored by American Institutes for Research (AIR) expert Mark Schneider finds that 51 percent of Hispanic college students earn an undergraduate degree in six years, compared with 59 percent of white students. Hispanic students graduate at lower rates than their white peers across similarly ranked institutions – from the nation’s least selective to its most selective colleges and universities.

The study, Rising to the Challenge, Hispanic College Graduation Rates as a National Priority, was a project of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and released on Thursday, March 18, 2010. Schneider, a visiting scholar at AEI, co-authored the study with Andrew P. Kelly, a research fellow at AEI, and Kevin Carey, policy director at Education Sector.

“Given the nation’s changing demographics, low Hispanic graduation rates present a challenge to the nation’s future success,” said Schneider. Noting that President Obama has set a goal of having the United States lead the world in college completion rates by 2020, Schneider said the study offers insights into the challenges that must be overcome to achieve the national goal. “We simply cannot meet the Administration’s ambitious objective without increasing the rate at which Hispanics successfully complete college.”

Findings include:

  • Even accounting for the type of students schools admit, Hispanic students graduate at lower rates than their white peers at all levels of admissions selectivity.
  • There is considerable variation in Hispanic graduation rates across schools with similar admissions criteria. Among schools in the “competitive” category, as defined by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, the ten highest-performing schools graduate more than three times as many of their Hispanic students, on average, as the ten lowest-performing schools.
  • The gaps between white and Hispanic graduation rates are smaller at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). This is not due, however, to higher Hispanic graduation rates at HSIs but to the tendency of these institutions to have below-average white graduation rates.
  • Hispanic women graduate at consistently higher rates than Hispanic men and often graduate at the same rate as white men in their schools.

The full report is available on the AEI Website,

About AIR

Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is an independent, nonpartisan not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit

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