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Twice as Many Colorado Whites Graduate College Than Latinos

Nearly 90 percent of white children in Colorado have at least one parent with some college education, but Latino parents are less likely to have experience enrolling in college. (White House)
Nearly 90 percent of white children in Colorado have at least one parent with some college education, but Latino parents are less likely to have experience enrolling in college. (White House)
August 7, 2018

DENVER – More Latinos need to graduate from high school and college in order to have a fighting chance of earning a middle-class income, according to a new Georgetown University report.

Currently, nearly 20 percent of Latinos who enrolled in a Colorado public college earn a bachelor's degree, compared with nearly 40 percent of Whites.

Tanya Garcia, the report's co-author, says Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S., and most in Colorado have a high school education or less.

"If current trends continue, there are not going to be enough jobs for anyone with just a high school degree or less in the near future," she warns. "So in order for Colorado's economy to keep thriving, more Latinos need to go to college."

The study also found that more than 40 percent of Latino high school graduates immediately enroll in college, compared with 63 percent of whites. Garcia says this education attainment gap has a significant impact on earning potential.

Twenty percent of whites end up landing jobs that pay $35,000 a year or more, compared with just 15 percent of Latinos.

The overall gap between whites and Latinos who graduate from college is roughly 20 percentage points. But when Latinos and whites have similar test scores and enroll in similar colleges, that drops to just 7 points. One of the report's recommendations is for Colorado to find ways to get more Latinos to attend selective colleges.

Garcia says the support that most students receive at these schools leads to higher graduation rates.

"And the main reason for this is that these schools spend more money per student," she says. "And those investments have led to better results, not just for Latino and white students but for all the students attending those colleges."

The report also recommends shifting the state's focus from moving kids with passing grades from K-12 to a more comprehensive and systematic effort to transition youth from dependency to adult independence.

Since fewer Latino parents have experienced applying for and completing college, Garcia says investing in more counselors who can help students identify education and career options - long before high school graduation - can also help bridge the education gap.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO