USC a Model for Graduating Latino Students

January 15, 2014


In a report coinciding with a White House summit on college accessibility, Education Trust recognizes the private research university, which has achieved consistently high graduation rates for all its students.

Contact: Eddie North-Hager at (213) 740-9335 or or USC Media Relations at (213) 740-2215 or

The University of Southern California, one of the largest and most selective private research universities in the country, also is one of the most successful at graduating Latino students, according to an analysis by the Education Trust.

USC, which has long pursued and valued a diverse student population, “increased graduation rates for Latino students 19 points to nearly the same rate as its white students,” according to “Learning from High Performing and Fast Gaining Institutions,” a report released on Jan. 16 to coincide with President Obama’s higher education summit on accessibility for disadvantaged students.

The report, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, held up as models eight universities that have markedly improved graduation rates over a sustained period of time – especially among students of color and for low-income students.

Of the eight, USC is the only private university and the only member of the Association of American Universities, the group representing the nation’s top research schools.

At USC, low-income and under-represented minority students graduate at rates comparable to the average of about 90 percent for the overall undergraduate population. The six-year graduation rate for Hispanic students exceeds 91 percent.

“We want all our students to graduate with academic programs that prepare them to meet their personal aspirations. Our success with Hispanic students can be attributed to a holistic approach that brings together faculty, academic advisors and student life professionals to promote engagement and success,” said Gene Bickers, vice provost for undergraduate programs.

USC recruits an economically and socially diverse student, staff and faculty body, and enrolls more under-represented minority students (African American, Latino and Native American) than most other private research universities in the country, about 19 percent of its total undergraduate population.

In addition, 13 percent of matriculating students are the first in their families to attend university.

USC also enrolls over 4,200 low-income undergraduate students (as defined by Pell Grant eligibility), more than most private research universities.

USC, located just south of downtown Los Angeles, prides itself on its ties to its neighborhood, to the city, and to Southern California. USC is the city’s largest private employer and has made being a good neighbor a priority, investing $35 million annually to support community initiatives that serve 40,000 community members.

Its flagship community program, the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative, an intensive college prep program, sends 100 percent of its students to college, with nearly half getting full-tuition scholarships to USC. USC has more than 3,000 local children in college access programs and more than 500 children in pre-school programs.

USC has adopted 15 neighborhood elementary, middle and high schools as part of its Family of Schools program, sharing with these schools its students and educational resources.

USC offers admission without regard to ability to pay, and the university meets 100 percent of the demonstrated need of on-time financial aid applicants. More than two-third of USC’s undergraduate students receive some form of financial assistance.

In addition to the report from Education Trust, USC efforts have been recognized on a national level by the Carnegie Foundation, the president of the American Council on Education, the World Health Organization and the “Saviors of Our Cities,” survey of best university civic partnerships.