Latino students rely heavily on federal aid and on grants in particular, according to the report, given that they are more likely to be first-generation college students (49 percent) and to have relatively low family incomes. Nearly 80 percent of Latino undergraduates applied for aid and 63 percent of those received some form of aid in 2003-04. And while Latinos were more likely to receive federal aid (50 percent) than all groups except African American students (62 percent), Latinos received the lowest average federal awards. However, only 16 percent of Latinos received state aid, and 17 percent received aid from postsecondary institutions.
The group was unclear about the reason why Latinos recieved less in aid, although in the NPR interview, it was pointed out that many first generation students go to community and state colleges, where financial aid grants are less since tuition and costs are assumed to be less. In addition to this, with the emphasis on historically black colleges over the past decades, there is a bit more of an emphasis to giving African American students help to get into these institutions, this may account for the discrepency between Latino and African American students.
I also have to wonder whether the bureaucracy involved in getting financial aid may be a big part of the problem too. I won’t go into the ugly details of my experiences with the financial aid department at Pima Community College, suffice it to say, I am older than most students, a reasonably smart guy, a second generation college student who’s mother worked in the U of A bureaucracy for years, and I had trouble with the aid paperwork and dealing with unhelpful aid office staff. The reasons why the staff seems so unhelpful and even hostile to students escapes me, since the college can only benefit from students being more financially secure. I can only imagine what an 18 year old whose family has never set foot on a campus must have to go through.