What is an HSI?

Definitions of a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) can vary depending on purpose, source, and include philosophical and technical characteristics.

  • A Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) is more than a Hispanic-enrolling one. While there are many ways a campus can be Hispanic-serving, an HSI is one that creates equity for, and advances the success of, all students, yet is intentional about Hispanic/Latino students who represent a siginicant percentage of enrollment.  

  • For membership purposes, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) defines HSIs as "colleges, universities, or systems/districts where total Hispanic enrollment constitutes a minimum of 25% of the total headcount enrollment."

  • Under federal law (Higher Education Opportunity Act, Title V, 2008), an HSI is defined as accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institutions of higher education with 25% or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment.

    • Additional criteria exist for federal Title III and Title V HSI grant programs.

HSIs by the Numbers

  • According to Excelencia in Education, a not-for-profit organization in Washington, DC, and trusted information source on Latino educational achievement, in 2015-2016, there were 472 institutions in the U.S. and Puerto Rico that met the enrollment definition of HSI.  

    • These HSIs enrolled 64 percent of Latino undergraduates, and represented 14 percent of institutions of higher education.

    • Over thirty-three percent of these HSIs were California campuses, and included 21 California State Universities (CSUs).  For a map of CSU HSIs, visit here.

    • Additionally, there were 323 "emerging" HSIs, defined as institutions with 15-24% undergraduate full-time equivalent Hispanic student enrollment.