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News Update

Latinos have made big educational gains, census data show

Over the last few decades, Latinos have made big educational gains in both high school and college attainment, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 1996, 58.2% of the Latino population ages 25 to 29 had graduated from high school. That increased to 88.5% in 2021, according to census data. In 2005, one-third of Latinos 25-34 had some college. By 2021, over half of young Latinos had some college.

Latinos of all backgrounds have made gains, but those of Mexican and Central American origin have made the greatest strides. In 2005, 21% of 18- to 24-year-olds of Mexican origin were in college or graduate school. In 2021, that share jumped to 33%. Latinos from Central America jumped 8 points to 29.2%. Young Latinos from Cuba and South America already had higher levels of college enrollment, but they also saw a modest jump to 45.6% and 47%, from 43.3% and 41.3%, respectively.

Latinos skew younger with a median age of 30.5 years, and it is younger Latinos who are making the greatest gains. In 2021, Latinos represented 20.1% of the U.S. college population — up from 11.4% in 2006.

These increases are notable because Latinos represent a growing share of the U.S. population. Their numbers have quadrupled since 1980.