Tucson Citizen
June 24, 2004

Study says Hispanics more likely to drop out of college

The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) Hispanic students are far more likely than whites to drop out of four-year colleges and half as likely to obtain a bachelor's degree, a national study concluded.

Only about 23 percent of Hispanic freshmen earned their degrees by age 26 while the figure for white students topped 47 percent, according to the study released Wednesday by the USC-affiliated Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.

Black and Asian-American college freshman also were more likely than Hispanics to earn degrees, with graduation rates of about 31 percent and 51 percent, respectively, the study said.

Richard Fry, the report's author, said a number of factors hurt the Hispanic graduation rate: they are more likely than whites to enroll only part-time in college, to contribute financially to their families and to live at home rather than on campus.

Living on campus, "you're probably much more likely to be socially and academically engaged, with school as your first priority," Fry said.

Hispanics also were likelier to attend community colleges and less-selective four-year schools where the overall graduation rate is lower, Fry said.

The graduation gap between Hispanics and whites was 7 percent at top colleges, such as UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley. It widened to 24 percent at "non-selective institutions," including many California State University campuses.

The findings were drawn from a national sampling of 13,000 students who were tracked from 1988, when they were in eighth grade, until 2000.