Washington, DC - This week, Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51) is leading a bipartisan effort with 32 colleagues to send a letter requesting funding for several programs that support the 409 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) across the nation.  The letter is addressed to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies to request funding for HSIs for Fiscal Year 2016.

Currently, only 15.2 percent of the Hispanic population holds a bachelor’s degree and only 4.2 percent holds an advanced degree. HSIs are crucial in addressing this disparity as they enroll 60 percent of Hispanic college students and 18 percent of all students in non-profit postsecondary institutions. In spite of these efforts, HSIs receive only 69 cents for every dollar going to all colleges and universities annually, per student, across all federal funding sources.

“It is extremely important that we prepare Hispanic students to enter a changing and demanding workforce,” said Vargas. “Strengthening the capacity of our HSIs is one way that we can address the education gap in America. I am very happy that many of my colleagues joined in this effort to push for stronger programs that will benefit the Hispanic population.”

Rep. Vargas and his colleagues requested $40 million for the Title VII- HSI Grants Program, $40 million for the Hispanic-Serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities (HSACU) Institutional Capacity-Building Grant Program, and $10 million for the HSACU Endowment Fund.  Additionally, the letter also requests $30 million for an HSI Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF), designed to increase the recruitment, retention and graduation rates of Hispanic students pursuing degrees in science, mathematics, engineering or technology and to increase the quality of STEM education.