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Increasing Latino College Completion Key for California Economy

For California to maintain its standing as the fifth-largest economy in the world, the state has to produce at least 1.65 million college graduates by 2030. But it won’t reach this goal without Latino educational success, and many of the state’s schools are not preparing young Hispanics for higher education.

Nearly 40 percent of all 38.6 million people living in California are Latino, including over half of the state’s K-12 student population and four in 10 college undergraduates. By 2060, almost half of the state’s residents will be Latino.

While more Latinos are attending universities, only 18 percent of Latino adults in the state have a degree — a rate that’s lower than any other racial or ethnic group.

The report found stark differences between California high schools that serve Latino students and those that serve predominantly white students, including a differential of 100 points in SAT scores.

The report also found a lack of mentoring programs, especially for minority students. Only 39 percent of the state’s Latino high school students had completed the paperwork to be able to attend a four-year state college.

Though an increasing number of Hispanic students are transferring from community colleges to public four-year state universities, only two percent of Latino students transferred after two years in a community college and less than a third transferred in six years.

Another issue, the California report found, was cost. While the state is generous with financial aid, Latino students often struggle with paying for books and housing.

Educators see California as a test case — it needs 60 percent of its adults to have a college degree, and this means putting a focus on Latino completion.

Click here to read the full article by Nicole Acevedo, Associate Producer at NBC News Digital