A Hispanic-Serving Institute, or commonly just HSI, is an institution of higher education that participates in a federally-funded program that is designed to assist these institutions operating in the United States that attempt to help first generation, majority low-income Hispanic students. There are a number of criteria associated with the designation; however, there are nearly 275 of these schools in the country. The one that comes in currently at the top of the list, though, is the University of California — Santa Cruz, because of their impressive rates of retention, graduation, and student satisfaction.

The top Hispanic-Serving online college is easily University of California — Santa Cruz. It has a freshman retention rate of 90%, and a graduation rate of 77.34% which is exceptionally high compared to other Hispanic-serving online colleges. The school was declared a Hispanic-serving Institute, or HSI, in the year 2012, when it surpassed the threshold of having 25% of its undergraduate population be made up of Hispanic students. Because of this designation, the school went on to receive over $3 million in Title V grants from the United States Department of Education(DOE) that year. These grants laid a foundation for the school to solidify partnerships with four other schools. These schools were San Jose City College, Monterey Peninsula College, Cabrillo College, and Hartnell College. Because of these connections, it became easier for students to transfer to UC Santa Cruz to complete their bachelor’s degrees. Four years later, they received another grant of nearly $6 million from the DOE. This grant was to use specifically to combat the decrease in Hispanic students that were pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degrees based on income restrictions. This school is considered the best because they have continued to demonstrate a strong commitment to their Hispanic students and their success. The second best school follows very closely behind, with a freshman retention rate of 90% and a graduation rate of 69.33%. It is the University of California — Riverside. UC Riverside, as the school is often called, became an HSI in 2008, and it was the first institution in the University of California system to be granted the distinction. Today, it remains one of very few premier research universities that are HSIs. 27% of their undergraduate students are Hispanic, and 60% of their undergraduates will be the first in their families to graduate from college. UC Riverside believe wholeheartedly in the success of their students, which is what makes them one of the best, along with their variety of academic programs at the graduate and the undergraduate levels. Chancellor Timothy P. White went on to say that “UC Riverside is creating the next generation of Latino scientists, artists, and entrepreneurs.”