Hispanic students now make up more than a quarter of enrollees at the University of Central Florida, making it eligible to be federally recognized as a “Hispanic-Serving Institution.”

A recent article in The Hechinger Report recounts UCF’s growth in Hispanic enrollment from 21.6 percent in fall 2014 to 26 percent today, as well as its initiatives to offer increased resources to Hispanic students, from roundtables on undocumented immigrant students to workshops including “Latinidad and LGBTQ+.”

Any accredited college or university with more than 25 percent Hispanic enrollment can qualify for the U.S. Department of Education’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions, or HSI, designation. FIU and Florida Atlantic University are currently the only public universities in the state to be on the list.

The label qualifies institutions for federal Title V and the Title III Part F grants to expand their resources for Hispanic students. The average award of those grants is $2 million and $775,000, respectively.

The Hechinger Report also notes that the HSI label makes institutions more attractive to Hispanic students entering college for the first time — around two-thirds of Hispanic students opt to attend an HSI according to estimates by Excelencia in Education.

Universities and colleges are not required to offer any Hispanic-serving resources in order to get on the list, however, Cyndia Muñiz, UCF’s assistant director for Hispanic-serving initiatives, said the university aims to be “an example of what it means to be a Hispanic-serving institution, if not the example.”

Muñiz said UCF expects to make the HSI list by the end of 2018.

The report also notes how UCF was one of many mainland universities to offer in-state tuition to Puerto Ricans whose studies were interrupted in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria last year. The University of Florida, University of South Florida, Florida State University and Florida International University made the same offer, as did many of the state’s public colleges.

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