Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

In a state filled with high performing, world-renowned ivy-league universities, you would think that the outcomes for students who attend public institutions in Massachusetts would be remarkable as well.

Despite Boston boasting some of the most prestigious institutions in the country with countless colleges and universities at every corner, Boston residents are increasingly less likely to be able to afford even public institutions. The reality is that Massachusetts has one of the highest state college costs in the country (25% higher than the national average). Living in a city overflowing with expensive colleges and having the highest economic disparities between Latinos and Whites nationwide can be intimidating for first-generation students growing up in Boston.

As many of you know, our state was recently named the Worst State for Latino’s by 24/7 Wall Street and USA Today, with Latino households making only $39,742 a year compared to $82,039 for White households. A recent study from Education Reform Now ranked Massachusetts with one of the largest White-Latino public college graduation gaps in the country, coming in at 37th in the nation out of 50 states plus Washington D.C. To gain further perspective, the White-Black graduation gap in Massachusetts ranks as 3rd best in the nation.

So why is this the case?

For one, Massachusetts' public four-year institutions charge the 8th highest tuition fees in the nation. These costs have risen 12% in just the past 5 years, making the college experience unattainable for much of the city’s Latino population.

Second, the college preparation gaps between White students and students of color are the largest in Massachusetts than in nearly any other state. Public institutions in Massachusetts require students to take MassCore Track* courses during high school before applying to colleges. However, not all public schools provide MassCore, leaving our students unable to attend a four-year public institution with no fault of their own. Latino students are also less than half as likely to take an Advanced Placement exam in Massachusetts compared to Latino students elsewhere in the nation.

In addition, language barriers also leave students to take remedial courses in college, which can cost more in the long-run. One in three Massachusetts public school graduates attending state institutions are required to enroll in at least one remedial course (74% higher than the national average). This phenomenon greatly affects on-time graduation and increases costs for families who already struggle with affording college tuition. The high costs of education also leaves some students from lower-income families to work while going to school. Because of this, they are more likely to drop to part-time hours or out of school completely.


Students from Sociedad Latina’s target communities (low-income, English learner, Mission Hill/Roxbury neighborhood) are eager to succeed, but under-performing schools, racism, poverty, violence, and linguistic barriers often prevent them from achieving their dreams of college and career success. At Sociedad Latina, we do more than just provide quality higher-education access programming (click here to find out more about the Academy for Latino Students Achieving Success program), we advocate for students and, more importantly, we provide a platform for our students to advocate for themselves.

Our Youth Community Organizers (YCOs) are currently surveying their peers on access to student-centered-learning initiatives that include AP courses, dual-enrollment, high school internships, individualized learning plans, college and career readiness workshops, and workforce development trainings. With the findings from these surveys, our YCOs will create a report that identifies areas that are working well and needs of improvement. This report will be presented at Boston Public School Committee Meetings, the Massachusetts State House, and with other community hearings.

Sociedad Latina and our Youth are determined to create change, are you?

You might be asking what you can do to help change the outcomes for Latino youth in Massachusetts?

  • Become a mentor for young students
  • Speak to your local official about increased student-centered learning for Latino and English Learner students
  • Support academic and nonprofit programs that provide college access and success coaching (like Sociedad Latina)
  • Request that your child’s school offer MassCore
  • Tutor a student who speaks another language
  • Encourage friends and family through their education

Massachusetts still has a long way to go. There are major racial and socio-economic gaps that are preventing youth from reaching their full potential. Help be a force of change within your community and support young Latino youth in Boston. Together we can create change.

- Written by: Tiffany Yancey, Development Manager at Sociedad Latina

To Read more about “No Commencement in the Commonwealth: How Massachusetts’ Higher Education System Undermines Mobility for Latinos and Others & What We Can Do About It.” by Education Reform Now click here.

*Mass Core is essentially a group of courses designed (and required) for entry into a MA public four-year college. It demands four years of English, our years of mathematics, three years of lab-based science, three years of history, and two years of the same foreign language, alongside other core electives”

Maria Grande