Study: Most Affordable Hispanic-Serving Institutions Among U.S. Colleges

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Since 1992, the federal government has recognized more than 490 colleges as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), or schools with a full-time student body that’s at least 25% Hispanic.

Thanks to this designation, HSIs — such as the University of California-Santa Barbara and the University of Houston, for example — receive federal grants, which can be used toward faculty development, the renovation of facilities and other purposes that benefit their students.

While you might be drawn to one of these HSIs, it’s important to take cost into consideration before choosing a college so that you don’t end up having to borrow a burdensome amount of student loans.

To find out which Hispanic-Serving Institutions are most affordable, Student Loan Hero took a look at how much it costs to attend these schools, including on-campus housing, for both in-state and out-of-state students. We then subtracted out the average package of free aid (scholarships and grants) to find these 10 most affordable HSIs for earning your college degree.

Key findings

  • Oklahoma Panhandle State University is one of the most affordable options for both in-state and out-of-state students, but it comes with a major caveat. Only 40% of 2016 freshman re-enrolled in 2017, far and away the lowest retention of any school on our list.
  • Inter American University of Puerto Rico-San German costs students around $12,748 per year after a typical aid package, and 80% of freshmen come back for their sophomore year, which is the highest rate on the top-10 list for out-of-state students.
  • Hispanic students in Texas have some great in-state options, including Texas A&M International University in Laredo, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, Texas Woman’s University in Denton and the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
  • Californians also have some excellent choices in their state, with three schools in the top 10 in-state, all of which have retention rates of around 80%: California State University-Fresno, California State University-Stanislaus, and California State University-Northridge.
  • The five schools with the highest retention rates — Loyola Marymount University and four University of California campuses — are also the most expensive for out-of-state students.

5 most affordable HSIs for in-state students living on campus

1. Texas A&M International University

Estimated average cost of attendance: $9,214

Texas A&M International University runs $9,214 per year — also including room and board and other expenses — after accounting for the average aid package. This college offers generous financial aid, having given scholarships and grants that averaged $8,769 in the 2016-2017 academic year.

Perhaps all this financial aid is the reason students tend to re-enroll year after year. This university’s full-time retention rate was 76%, higher than the national average of 60%.

2. Oklahoma Panhandle State University

Estimated average cost of attendance: $9,771

Oklahoma Panhandle State came in at a close second, with its annual estimated cost of attendance minus aid just a few hundred dollars more than Texas A&M’s. That said, its retention rate paints a much different picture: Only 40% of full-time students return after their first year.

If you’re considering Oklahoma Panhandle State, make sure to research its course offerings, facilities and other important factors of the college experience. The low retention rate could indicate that some students feel their education at this college is falling short in one way or another.

3. California State University-Fresno

Estimated average cost of attendance: $10,394

If you’re a California resident, you might enjoy the low costs of this Central Valley school. Cal State Fresno awards large scholarships and grants, which can practically cut your bill in half to an estimated average of $10,394. (In the 2016-2017 year, this state university gave an average award of $10,037.)

And it must be doing other things right, too, since it boasts a high retention rate of 81%.

4. The University of Texas Rio Grande

Estimated average cost of attendance: $10,639

Texans have another affordable HSI option with the University of Texas Rio Grande. This college’s tuition rates aren’t that much  higher than Texas A&M’s, and it similarly offers hefty scholarships, with an average award of $9,396 in the 2016-2017 year.

Its retention rate is a solid 79%, so if you’re like most University of Texas Rio Grande students, you’ll spend all four years at this school and ultimately graduate with your degree.

5. Dalton State College

Estimated average cost of attendance: $10,871

If you hail from Georgia, look into Dalton State College for an affordable in-state education. With annual tuition and other costs coming in just under $16,000 but with average scholarship awards of $5,044, Dalton State could be a budget-savvy option.

Its retention rate is a bit lower than some other schools at 68%, but not so low as to raise alarm bells. Of course, cost isn’t the only factor when selecting a college; you also want to ensure you’ll find a good fit that will help you meet your educational, personal and professional goals.

5 most affordable HSIs for out-of-state students living on campus

1. Oklahoma Panhandle State University

Estimated average cost of attendance: $9,771

Not only is Oklahoma Panhandle State affordable for Oklahoma residents, but its costs are just as low for out-of-state students. This is thanks to an already low listed cost of attendance, reduced by an average $4,309 in aid.

But as mentioned above, its low 40% retention rate could be a red flag, so make sure to learn more about the school beyond its price tag before enrolling.

2. Inter American University of Puerto Rico-San German

Estimated average cost of attendance: $12,748

Founded in 1912, this private Christian university charges just $12,748 per year on average to out-of-state students, after offering gift aid averaging $5,196 per year. The Inter American University of Puerto Rico has a large student body, 80% of whom return year after year. It offers more than 50 programs, with classes taught in both English and Spanish.

3. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Estimated average cost of attendance: $14,671

If you’re looking to move to the Lone Star state, consider the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Its annual cost of attendance is less than $15,000, after including the average scholarship and grant funds ($7,563 in 2016-2017).

Although this university is affordable, however, its retention rate is a bit lower than some of the schools on this list. Just two out of three students re-enroll their following year.

4. University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras

Estimated average cost of attendance: $15,250

Puerto Rico has another college making the list for top-five most affordable HSIs: the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras. Out-of-state students can attend for just over $15,250 per year, after scholarship funds averaging $5,184 per student.

At 77%, this San Juan-based school has almost as high a retention rate as the Inter American University of Puerto Rico.

5. West Texas A&M University

Estimated average cost of attendance: $16,181

Just as Puerto Rico HSIs tend to be affordable for out-of-state students, so, too, do the HSIs in Texas. West Texas A&M charges out-of-state students just over $16,000 per year, after accounting for average scholarship awards of $6,286.

Its retention rate is a bit lower, at 64%, so make sure to research the school’s course offerings and other factors to ensure it will meet your needs.

Factor in cost of attendance when choosing a college

With rates of student debt higher than ever, it’s crucial to consider the cost of attendance before selecting a college. Come up with a plan for covering costs, whether that involves applying for scholarships, working a part-time job or borrowing student loans (within reason, of course).

At the same time, cost isn’t the only factor that goes into choosing a college, as you want to make sure your school offers the courses, faculty and facilities that will give you a good experience. As revealed in this study, some students enroll in these low-cost HSIs only to leave after one academic year.

So make sure to learn all about a college before applying, tour campuses if you can and try to talk to current students whenever possible. That way, you can choose a school that will meet your expectations but not break the bank.

Click here for the full rankings of HSIs for in-state and out-of-state students.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.

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