The History of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs)

Students gathering in The Queens College campus field.

Flickr user Muhammad Ghouri

You’ve probably heard of HBCUs (or Historically Black Colleges and Universities), but a less commonly known federal definition for schools is a HSI or Hispanic Serving Institution. Here’s a history of HSIs and how they exist today.

What is a HSI?

An HSI, or Hispanic Serving Institution, is a college, university, or a similar system that grants degrees and has at least 25% full time students that are Hispanic. Schools do have to at least offer two years of education while also helping to serve students who are in need of assistance. They can be private or public nonprofit institutions.

Schools must meet federal requirements to be considered a HSI and to receive any additional funding. These grants have their roots in the Higher Education Act of 1965. Currently, the term HSI can be found defined in federal law in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (Title V) of 2008.

HSIs Today

Today, there are about 500 colleges, universities, systems, and institutions that are qualify to be HSIs by the Department of Education. This number continues to climb; In 1994, there were fewer than 200 HSIs. Even in 2005, there were less than 250.

Between 2010 and 2016, the number climbed astronomically, with over 150 schools joining the ranks to be considered a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Schools that are Considered HSIs

With about 500 schools being considered Hispanic Serving Institutions, you can find colleges and universities all over the county that have at least 25% of the student body made up of those with Hispanic heritage. However, over 75% of Hispanic people in the US live in California, New York, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, Florida, and Texas, so you may find even more schools that fit the federal definition of a HSI in these states.

Some colleges and universities that are considered HSIs include Arizona Western College, Fresno Pacific University, University of Central Florida, Nevada State College, The University of New Mexico, many schools in the CUNY system including Queens College, Texas State University, and more. It’s also important to note that Puerto Rico also has several federally recognized HSIs.

What It Means For a School

If a college, university, or other institution qualifies as an HSI, they will be provided with grants that can help grow opportunities and improve available education to their Hispanic student body. The college must use these grants towards those specific purposes, which could be by improving the qualify of a program, expand current courses and programs, or making it easier for Hispanic students to attend college.

There are also grants to help increase the number of Hispanic students taking part in STEM programs and make it easier for students, including those who are considered low income, to transfer within two-year and four-year schools within STEM fields.

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