Latino Americans are the now the largest and also the fastest growing ethnic minority in the United States. But despite their growing numbers, Latino’s are half as likely to hold a college degree as non-Hispanic white adults, an education gap that has been widening since 2000.  

This information comes as the result of data gathered from recent report conducted by The Education Trust, a nonprofit group that conducts research and advocates for low-income students. Andrew Howard Nichols, senior director of higher education research and data analytics at the Trust was somewhat surprised at the findings of the report, commenting that, “for us, it was surprising just how low the Latino degree attainment numbers are and how significant the gaps are in certain states.” Nichols believes that ignoring the racial gaps that exist will prevent us from reaching our goals for a college educated workforce.  

According to the report, fewer than a quarter, or 22.6 percent, of Latino Americans ages 25 to 64 held a two-year college degree or higher in 2016. This is lower than blacks of which 30 percent hold a degree and whites of which nearly half, or 47.1 percent hold degrees. 

In some states like California the gap is even worse. With Latinos making up 36 percent of the adult population, only 18 percent of Latino Californians hold a college degree. By contrast, 53 percent of white adults in California have a college degree. 

Although there has been an increase in Latinos attending and graduating from college over the last few decades, the increase has not kept up with other racial and ethnic groups which are boosting their college graduation rates faster. 

Experts believe that immigration can explain some of the gap. Of Latinos born in the United States, almost 30 percent have a college degree which very close to the black attainment numbers. Only 17 percent of Latinos who were born abroad have a degree. Another factor that affects the numbers is the degree of difficulty undocumented immigrants have in trying to attain a college education. 

The gap is closing however, and hopefully new laws and opportunities will narrow it even further soon.