More focus on finances needed to increase Latino science and math graduates

December 1st, 2010 in Other Sciences / Social Sciences

A recently released report co-written by a University of California, Riverside professor argues that more attention needs to placed on finances to increase the number of Latino students graduating in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

The authors of the report – Lindsey E. Malcom, an assistant professor of education at UC Riverside, Alicia C. Dowd, an associate professor at USC, and Terrence Yu, a consulting researcher – found STEM majors with more financial support from their parents were more likely to graduate from highly selective institutions than with less support.

"Our findings reveal yet another way that Latina and Latino students are disadvantaged in the current context of rising college costs and falling non-load financial aid," Malcom said.

The report, "Tapping HSI-STEM Funds to Improve Latina and Latino Access to STEM Professions," comes at time of increased attention on increasing the number of Latino students trained in the STEM fields.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which infuses $100 million annually through 2019 to increase degree attainment in STEM fields at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). HSI is a federal designation for colleges and universities where at least 25 percent of the full-time equivalent undergraduate enrollment is Hispanic. (UC Riverside is one of only four research universities with the HSI designation.)

The report is the third in a series released the past two years by the Center for Urban Education at USC. The reports, funded by a $670,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, aim to increase the number of Latino STEM graduates.

The report offers a list of recommendations for HSI schools seeking the federal grants:

The report divided Latino students into three categories – self-support, parental support and balanced support – based on sources of financial support they used to pay for college.

Only 26 percent of self-supporters graduated from a research university, compared to 46 percent of those parentally supported and 42 percent with balanced support.

Similarly, self-supporters attended institutions of lesser prestige. Only 21 percent of self-supporters attended highly selective institutions, compared to 32 with parental support and 34 percent with balanced support.

Provided by University of California - Riverside

"More focus on finances needed to increase Latino science and math graduates." December 1st, 2010. http://phys.org/news/2010-12-focus-latino-science-math.html