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Many Latino Students Find American Dream Out of Reach

Because more and more jobs of the future will require a college education, it seems that the American dream will be harder to achieve without one. Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the U.S. and represent millions of college-aged young adults. Why is it, then, that fewer and fewer Hispanics are graduating from 2- and 4-year institutions?

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By Erin Tigro

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Challenges Often Faced in Pursuit of a Dream

One of the major obstacles to starting college is to finish high school, and Hispanics account for the largest percentage of 18-24 year olds who never attended or just dropped out, as indicated by a 2009 report compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. In many communities, young Latinos may be the first in their family to seek a post-high school education. And as with so many other students in the country who aren't properly prepared throughout their K-12 curriculum, many Hispanics who do graduate high school will not be college ready. They may have to take remedial classes even before considering a major.

While organizations like the Hispanic Scholarship Fund provide helpful resources and financial assistance to the Latino community, many students are not aware of these types of groups. College application, admissions and school transfer processes may be daunting, and good counselors who could help steer students in the right direction may be lacking. This seemingly difficult system may deter some from continuing on. In addition, without a proper understanding of the financial aid options available, interested students may view a college education as financially out of reach. Employment or family obligations may also impact a young Hispanic's choice to attend college.

Relationship Between College and a Better Future

The benefit of a college degree has been under fire lately, in light of rising tuition, exorbitant student loan rates and often mediocre salaries for first-time college graduates. However, in general, individuals with college degrees have been less impacted by the downtrodden economy. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment percentages are a bit lower with each notch of post-high school education. Furthermore, with each postsecondary degree earned, more income can be expected over one's lifetime.

Find out how college-ready students in the Latino mecca of Florida are getting a chance to pursue their American dream.

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