Welcome to the Website for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).
Why does HACU exist? There is a whole series of reasons but one overwhelming need, to improve higher education access and success for Hispanic students.
Hispanics, a Federal designation that includes Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and other U.S. citizens and residents who trace their roots from Latin American countries and Spain, are now the largest minority group in the U.S., comprising over 17% of the population. Moreover, it is the youngest and second fastest-growing population group in the United States.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that Hispanics now make up half of the increase in the American workforce. Latinos are the future of the American economy.
But Hispanics have faced a range of barriers, economic and social, to educational attainment. Historically they suffer from the highest high school dropout rate of any population group. Consequently Hispanic college-going and graduation rates lag those of others.
While traditionally Hispanics have been concentrated in the Southwestern United States, in Florida, New York and Illinois, and of course in Puerto Rico, large numbers of them are emerging in other regions and states. It is not surprising then that most Latinos attend college in those same regions.
One of the striking facts that gave rise to HACU is that less than 15% of the more than 3500 colleges and universities in the U.S. educate more than 60% of all college-going Latinos. These Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are defined as colleges and universities whose enrollments are at least 25% Hispanic.
Another group of institutions, HACU's Associate Members, fall short of the 25% requirement, but have at least 1,000 Hispanic students enrolled or a minimum of 10% Hispanic enrollment. In more recent years, HACU has embraced international members, colleges and universities from throughout the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world, as well as Partner Institutions, who while they do not have the Hispanic enrollment numbers, are yet committed to improving higher educational opportunities for Hispanics. Together, HACU member institutions educate two-thirds of all U.S. Hispanics in higher education.
Adding to the challenge is the underfunding of Hispanic-Serving Institutions. In 2010-11 HSIs on average received $3,815 in federal funding per student, compared to $5,554 per student all institutions of higher education received. The disparity continues even after some years of federal funding targeted to HSIs, in large part, through the advocacy efforts of HACU.
As you browse our website, you will see the variety of activities that HACU has undertaken to address these issues. Government Relations catalogues our public policy efforts to address these issues. Programs and Student Resources, including the HACU National Internship Program (HNIP), present a variety of efforts to directly improve Hispanic educational success by reducing the barriers and increasing resources available to HSIs.
HACU is especially grateful for the sponsors and partners, federal agencies, corporations large and small, and foundations and non-profits that support us in all these efforts.
We hope that as you learn more about the critical importance of these issues, you will also join the champions of Hispanic success in higher education.
Antonio R. Flores, Ph.D.