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Latino and Latina students continue to lag behind Asian-American and white students in college attendance and completion rates in the United States. As Hispanic students form an increasingly high proportion of the United States population, this is an issue not just for the students as individuals, but also for the future economic competitiveness of the United States as a country.
The first policies that will help are implementation of immigration reforms, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program created by President Obama. Children or families who do not have legal status in the United States are far less likely to succeed educationally than those with access to a path for citizenship and legal identities. This is especially true for hard-working young DREAMers, young people who were brought to the country illegally as babies or young children. Those who have been given legal status under DACA show consistently improved academic and economic status.
Next, for many bilingual students, it is important to have dual language education, in which subject matter is taught in a language in which they are fluent while they are working to improve their English, so that they do not lag behind in math and other subjects due to linguistic obstacles.
Another major obstacle to the success of many Hispanic students in the United States is economic. As with other children from families without a tradition of tertiary education, many Hispanic students do not know of the financial aid options that will help them attend college. This means that making such information widely available and providing coaching to help these students learn how to negotiate financial aid bureaucracies and the alien environment of the university has been shown to improve retention and graduation rates.
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