Education gap between Latino and white students widens, report says

The latino gap widens among white students.
(Diana Ramirez/LA times, Getty Images)

Crossing the stage and graduating is not an easy task, and for Latino students it seems to be even more difficult, as the education gap between Latino and white, non-Hispanic students has widened within the last four years.

A recent report by Excelencia in Education, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes Latino student achievement, shows that the number of Latino students enrolled in colleges is up but the graduation rate has not seen an increase.

The numbers in the report demonstrate the harsh reality that Latino students across the country are facing, and the obstacles they have to overcome compared to their white counterparts. With 20% of the U.S. population identifying as Latino, the education gap is a representation of vast disparities.

The report looked at multiple statistics including degree attainment for Latino students both on a national level and in each state. The findings show that across the country only 28% of Latino adults age 25 or over have earned an associate’s degree or higher, compared to 48% of white adults. These numbers are increasingly alarming, especially after the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn affirmative action.


“Public narratives about Latinos’ economic condition place far too much emphasis on individual behaviors of the group, rather than structural factors such as discrimination.”

July 19, 2023

In California, which has the highest Latino population, only 22% of Latino adults have earned an associate‘s degree or higher, compared to 56% of white, non-Hispanic students. A previous Excelencia in Education report released in 2022, looked at how many additional Latino undergraduate degrees would be needed to close the equity gap. At that time they projected 397,130 were needed in 2023 and 460,926 for 2024.

Excelencia in Education also researched the top institutions enrolling Latino undergraduate students nationally and statewide. In California, the majority were Cal State universities. Cal State Los Angeles’ total Latino enrollment is 72%. Cal State Northridge’s is 54% and Cal State Fullerton’s is 49%.

The top institutions in California awarding bachelor’s degrees to Latino students were also all Cal State schools. The list included Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State L.A. and Cal Poly Pomona.

On a national level, the top institutions enrolling Latino students were evenly spread among Florida and Texas. The top schools included Miami Dade College, Florida International University, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the Lone Star College System in Texas and NUC University in Puerto Rico.

As a previously undocumented person, all I’ve wanted was to be considered the same as everyone else. Defined by my merit, not by the place of my birth.

July 20, 2023

At two-year institutions in California, 33% of Latino students graduated, compared to 43% of white students. At four-year institutions, 58% of Latino students in California graduated, compared to 70% of white students.

There is also a significant difference in the percentage of students no longer enrolled in college between Latino and white students. At two-year institutions, 45% of Latino students were no longer enrolled compared to 35% of white students. At four-year institutions, 32% of Latino students were no longer registered, compared to 22% of white students.


The organization believes that when institutions measure their postsecondary student success it can be used to help influence public policy. The Latino College Completion study is conducted every couple of years and uses data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

In its report, Excelencia in Education pointed to an increase in initiatives, enrollment and programs at schools as being solutions to help lessen the education gap.