The nation’s Latino student population reached a number of milestones in 2011, according to an analysis of newly available U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
Hispanics are now, for the first time, the largest minority group among the nation’s four-year college and university students. And for the first time, Hispanics made up one-quarter (25.2%) of 18- to 24-year-old students enrolled in two-year colleges.
In the nation’s public schools, Hispanics also reached new milestones. For the first time, one-in-four (24.7%) public elementary school students were Hispanic, following similar milestones reached recently by Hispanics among public kindergarten students (in 2007) and public nursery school students (in 2006). Among all pre-K through 12th grade public school students, a record 23.9% were Hispanic in 2011.
Record numbers of Latinos are also finishing college, with 112,000 earning associate degrees and 140,000 earning bachelor’s degrees. Pew states both statistics are new highs, yet Latinos still lag behind whites (1.2 million bachelor’s degrees and 553,000 associates) and blacks (165,000 bachelor’s and 114,000 associates) in degree attainment.
Black college enrollment in 2011 was down 3% from 2010, dropping from 1.69 million to 1.64 million, while Latino enrollment was up 15%, from 1.81 million to 2.08 million.