A college education is a long-standing fixture of middle-class status, and is a predictor of higher income, good health and higher job quality. Historical conditions and structural and institutional inequalities have resulted in significant differences in educational attainment by race and ethnicity. While the Latino high school drop-out rate is at an all-time low, and Latinos are enrolling in
higher education at unprecedented rates, significant gaps in educational attainment remain. In the U.S., whether an individual has the opportunity to achieve higher education is also highly dependent on household income, and, for some Latinos, financial obstacles prevent them from enrolling in college. For instance, the Pew Research Center reported that 66% of Latinos who got a
job or entered the military after high school, instead of enrolling in college, cite the need to help support their families.
In this research brief, the third in a series by the California Latino Economic Institute (CLEI) examining the state of Latino economic well-being in California, we provide an educational profile of Latinos in California with an emphasis on understanding the educational challenges and opportunities of middle-class Latinos. In the 2015-2016 school year, more than half (54%) of students
enrolled in Kindergarten through 12th grade were Latino. Given their large share of the population, the educational and economic success of the state as a whole is dependent on the educational well-being of Latinos.
• Young Latinas are achieving higher education at higher rates than young male Latinos: 37.2% of Latinas between the ages of 25-34 years have a 4-year degree or higher, compared to 32.1% of male Latinos in the same age group.
• The percentage of Latina high school graduates who are eligible to enroll in a UC or CSU has increased by 20 percentagepoints from 2000 to 2016.
• 12.3% of Latinos have a 4-year degree or higher, compared to 52.4% of non-Latino Asian Americans.
• The share of California Latinos with a 4-year degree or higher has been steadily increasing from 2000 to 2016.