For the first time, young Hispanics outnumber blacks on college campuses.
A study released today by the Pew Hispanic Center finds that enrollment of Hispanic students aged 18 to 24 rose by 24 percent in a single year, reaching 1.8 million in October 2010.
That’s 349,000 new Hispanic students. By contrast, black enrollment rose by 88,000 and Asian American enrollment rose by 43,000. White enrollment declined by 320,000. These crisscrossing numbers amplify the shift in the overall makeup of the college population.
There are now 1.8 million Hispanics enrolled in American colleges, 1.7 million blacks and 800,000 Asians. White enrollment has declined from about 8 million in 2009 to 7.7 million last fall.
Growth in Hispanic enrollment is fed by a rapid increase in the nation’s Hispanic population, which rose by 7 percent between 2009 and 2010. But a bigger portion is rising attainment — meaning that a growing share of Hispanics are enrolling in college. Hispanic attainment rose from 27 percent in 2009 to 32 percent in 2010, a five-point gain in a single year.
To put that number in context, Hispanics still trail all other racial and ethnic groups in enrollment rate. Young Asians are most likely to go to college, with an enrollment rate of 62 percent; whites are far behind at 43 percent; 38 percent of blacks and 32 percent of Hispanics enroll.
The white college population is declining because of a falling birth rate; the young white population has been falling since 2008.
Hispanics are nearly as likely to enroll in community colleges as four-year colleges, whereas whites and Asians favor four-year colleges at a ratio of about 3 to 1.
This post has been updated since it was first published.