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CSU Highlighted for Role in Educating Latina/o Students in Excelencia Report

Hazel Kelly

Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) reach 25-year milestone with California and the CSU leading Latina/o student success. 

college student at graduation ceremony

Archive photo. Courtesy of Cal State Fullerton


​​​​2020 marked 25 years since Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) were funded through federal legislation. In recognition of this important milestone, nonprofit advocacy group Excelencia in Education explores the impact 25 years of HSIs have had on the nation’s Latina/o students in their research report, 25 Years of HSIs.  

HSIs are defined under the Higher Education Act (HEA) as colleges or universities where at least 25 percent of the undergraduate, full-time enrollment is Hispanic; and at least half of the institution’s degree-seeking students must be low-income. CSU campuses have been a leader in educating Latino/a students, with 21 of the CSU’s 23 campuses—as well as the Chancellor’s Office—having earned HSI designation. 

On March 2, 2021, Excelencia in Education partnered with several CSU campuses, including CSUN and President Erika D. Beck to co-host a virtual California Briefing on 25 Years of HSIs, featuring remarks from CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro and California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley.  The briefing was also presented in partnership with CSU Channel Islands, Fresno State, CSU Monterey Bay and Cal State San BernardinoThe California event was part of a series of briefings Excelencia in Education is hosting across the country. 

California is home to the most HSIs in the country, with 176, representing almost 50 percent of all institutions. The state’s HSIs enroll almost 90 percent of Latina/o undergraduates and almost 80 percent of all undergraduates.  

The California briefing report shows that two of the top five California institutions where Latinos earn degrees are CSU campuses: CSUN and Cal State Fullerton 

California map with CSU campus locations

Twenty-one of the 23 CSU campuses meet HSI criteria. Read the CSU HSI fact sheet​ for more information.   

“With 21 of 23 California State University campuses earning HSI designation, the CSU is immensely proud to serve as a leader in improving both access and success for Latino students,” said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “Excelencia in Education has highlighted many of the best practices across the university to shine a light on how we can do even more to serve this population of students who are so important to the future of California and the nation.”  

CSU data show that Hispanic students comprise almost half of the university’s student body, and for the academic year 2019-2020, it awarded more than 44,000 bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic students. In fact, 62% of the total number of bachelor’s degrees earned by Hispanics in California are CSU degrees.  

Excelencia’s state briefing cited more than 15 CSU campus programs as “Examples of Excelencia”—recognized for evidence-based practices in accelerating Latino student success. Among those were Cal State East Bay’s Gaining Access ‘N Academic Success (GANAS) transfer program, Cal Poly Pomona’s Cal-Bridge graduate mentoring and scholarship program, CSU San Marcos’ College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), and Stanislaus State’s Students Transitioning to Engaged and Motivated (STEM) Success retention program.  

In addition, nine CSU campus presidents are part of Excelencia’s Presidents for Latino Student Success (P4LSS), a diverse group of leaders who have committed to making their institutions learning environments where Latino students thrive. And two of the three Seal of Excelencia-certified institutions in California are CSU campuses: CSU Channel Islands and Sacramento StateExcelencia established this national certification for institutions that strive to go beyond enrollment to intentionally serve Latino students. 


More details on the impact of HSIs on education in California can be found in the report from Excelencia. 


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