Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Excelencia in Education: Placing Latinos in the Financial Aid Conversation

Latinos Financial Aid
Excelencia in Education is using a Capitol Hill briefing today to release the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded white paper Using A Latino Lens To Reimagine Aid Design And Delivery.

“This is a framing document getting people to think about what they can be doing as they develop policy regarding Latinos and federal financial aid,” Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education’s vice president for policy and research, and author of the white paper, told VOXXI.

“There’s a lot of talk now in public policy about the strengths and limitations of our current financial aid system and structure. So we’re trying to place Latinos in that conversation.”

The non-profit Excelencia in Education has a mission to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. It is in fact the only Latino-focused organization among the 16 selected by the Gates Foundation to inform their national discussion about redesigning federal financial aid.

Within Using A Latino Lens To Reimagine Aid Design And Delivery, Santiago said Excelencia in Education makes the case that federal financial aid policy should be re-imagined and redesigned based on the following principles:

  • Efficiency in serving traditional students today can limit effectiveness in serving a majority of students tomorrow
  • Prioritize access for low-income students with financial aid and compliment with incentives to complete
  • Effective financial aid policy requires more than funding
  • Transparency of information on federal financial aid requires strategic outreach and engagement for maximum effectiveness

“Really, the idea is we need to focus on post-traditional students, not non-traditional,” Santiago said. “The majority of students today are not traditional. Latinos are really representative of that post-traditional student that might go part-time, might go to community colleges, might stop and return, might be older, are working while they’re enrolled and are living off campus.

“So that’s the majority of students. I think looking at financial aid policy changes using that lens can be more effective for a growing majority of students.”

Added Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Education Task Force, “Our national financial aid system must reflect the reality of the students it is intended to serve. Latino students are vital to that equation, and this research also demonstrates how looking at the system through their eyes can lead to better financial aid solutions for all.”

Among the bullet points in Using A Latino Lens To Reimagine Aid Design And Delivery are statistics that support the need for focus on the Latino student population. Specifically, in looking at the profile of Latinos, over 40 percent who are enrolled in college are the first in their family to go to higher education. Roughly a quarter of students enrolled have family incomes of less than $40,000 a year. The result is 21 percent of Latino adults have associates degrees and higher, compared to the national average of more than 30 percent.

“We’re really talking about a population that has a great opportunity in our education structure,” Santiago said. “So we need to focus on that and get them a better education.”

 This article originally appeared on Voxxi.