What is an HSI?

The Higher Education Act defines a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) as an accredited and eligible degree-granting college that has applied to the U.S. Department of Education for the designation and which has at least 25 percent undergraduate full-time equivalent Hispanic* enrollment at the end of the award year immediately preceding the date of application. An eligibility infographic can be found here.

This designation is part of an umbrella of designations given to institutions that have seen a drastic shift in who they are enrolling. Of all the different kinds of Minority-Serving Institutions, the HSI designation is fairly new, becoming official in 1992 through the advocacy and activism of the Latinx/a/o community across the nation. In 1995, under the Title V section of the Higher Education Act, the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions program was launched providing various funding opportunities to institutions that were designated as an HSI. While the funds associated with becoming an HSI are important, they are not the sole reason why SLCC wants to pursue this designation. For SLCC, adopting an HSI identity centers on the very important question of “what does it mean to serve Latinx/a/o students?” In answering this question our Collaborative Work Team hopes to innovatively reimagine how our institution fosters transformative and inclusive research, practice, policies, and environments that support all students by way of the HSI designation.


* The U.S. Department of Education uses the U.S. Census definition of Hispanic to award the HSI designation. According to the U.S. Census, Hispanic refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.