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Lehigh Community College.
Lehigh Community College is an emerging HSI that is the closest to Philadelphia in the state. Photo: Courtesy

There are three Hispanic Serving Institutions in PA and none in Philly

Although there are HSIs located in 29 different states, PA is the home to only three of them.

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Last week, AL DÍA News interviewed Gina Ann Garcia about her work in helping define what is the role of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). 

For a college or university to become an HSI, it needs to reach 25% of Hispanic students to be able to submit the application and get the federal designation. 

According to data from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, in 2020-2021, in Pennsylvania, there are only three HSIs, but 12 are emerging. In Philadelphia, the state’s biggest city, there are currently none. However, the future seems promising for HSIs.  

The HSIs in Pennsylvania are: Lehigh Carbon Community College, Northampton County Area Community College, Reading Area Community College. The percentage of Hispanic students at each institution is 25.7%, 25.4% and 37.8%., respectively. 

All of them are two-year public institutions. 

There is currently no federal definition for “Emerging HSIs,” but Excelencia in Education defines them as institutions that have an undergraduate Hispanic enrollment between 15% and 24%. Among the 12 emerging HSIs in Pennsylvania, three are in Philadelphia — ASPIRA City College, Community College of Philadelphia and La Salle University.  

In the United States, there are currently 559 HSIs, with another 393 emerging. California is the state where the majority of the HSIs are located. The Golden state has 174 HSIs, and 51 are emerging. Texas comes behind with 97 HSIs, and 40 emerging. 

In Pennsylvania, there are more than 500,000 undergraduate students enrolled. From those, more than 43,000 are Latinos, meaning that the total headcount of Hispanic students in the state relative to the total number of students enrolled is 8.5%. 

In states where the number of HSIs is way bigger than Pennsylvania, such percentage is also bigger. In New Mexico, the total headcount of Hispanic students relative to the total number of students enrolled is 50.4%; in California, 43.6%; and in Texas, 42%. 

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