Gap Widens for Latinos and College

Tuesday, March 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON – The education gap between Latinos and non-Latino whites is narrowing at the high school level but growing wider at the college level, the Census Bureau reported Monday.

In its annual statistical portrait of America's diverse Latino population, the Census Bureau said Latino adults are more than three times as likely as non-Latino whites to be high school dropouts. And they are also nearly three times less likely to have college degrees.

Overall, 57 percent of Latinos 25 and older are high school graduates, compared with 88 percent of non-Latino whites. About 11 percent of Latinos have a college degree, compared with 28 percent of non-Latino whites.

The Latino high school graduation rate has shown a steady improvement, climbing from 53 percent in 1995, when the rate for non-Latino whites was 86 percent.

The Latino college graduation rate rose from 9 percent in 1995, when the non-Latino rate was 25 percent. The review of the fast-growing Latino population is based on interviews and research conducted in March last year. The survey of Latinos is separate from the 2000 Census, whose results will be released this month.

About two-thirds of America's Latino population is of Mexican origin, the report found. About 14 percent are of Central and South American origin, 9 percent of Puerto Rican origin and 4 percent of Cuban origin.

The Census Bureau found that nearly 23 percent of Latinos live below the federal poverty line, compared with nearly 8 percent for non-Latino whites. The poverty standard is about $16,000 a year for a family of four.

The census reported that blacks remain the largest minority group, with 35.5 million people, or 12.8 percent of the population. Latinos rank second at 32.8 million, or 11.8 percent.