Goshen College is drawing closer to reaching its goal of becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, in order qualify as a Hispanic Serving Institution, schools must have an undergraduate full-time equivalent enrollment in which at least 25 percent of students are Hispanic. As of this fall, Goshen College stands at 23 percent.

The incoming class of 215 full-time students is 32 percent Hispanic. Goshen College has the goal of qualifying for the ranking by next year.

After achieving eligibility status, there remains a year-long application process.

“The college is investing more in Latino student recruitment to reach our goal,” said Gilberto Perez, Goshen College dean of students.

Should Goshen College achieve Hispanic Serving Institution status, the school would be eligible for federal funding that would help support Hispanic students in pursuit of educational opportunities.

“Hispanics would feel more welcomed and this status would give empowerment to the minority of the Hispanic population,” said Sandra Cortez, a first-year student.

But this aspiration is about more than just financing.

“It is not just about the money,” said Rocio Diaz, coordinator of parent and community engagement. “We want our Hispanic students that come to Goshen College to graduate.”

Graduation rates at Goshen College for the period between 2009 and 2015 were 66 percent  overall and 71 percent for Hispanic students, said Richard Aguirre, director of corporate and foundation relations.

He described the graduation rate for Hispanic students at Goshen College as “outstanding.”

The gap runs the other direction at high schools. According to the Institute of Latino Higher Educational Achievement, 69.8 percent of Hispanic students graduate from high school, compared with 84.4 percent for non-Hispanic whites.

In another indicator of comparable success at Goshen College, the retention rate for students in the ALANA group, which includes Latino students, was 82 percent for the fall of 2016, according to Perez.

“The Hispanic population is constantly growing,” said Perez, “somos muchos.”

Goshen College is also offering meetings for parents of first-generation students to help them better understand what college really is about and its requirements.

“I didn’t understand how hard college really was until I became a student myself,” Diaz said, explaining how some Hispanic parents don’t understand the amount of effort it requires to be a college student.

“I want more Latino parents to understand what college is, so they can better support their children,” Diaz said. “Once parents understand what it really takes to be a full-time college student they will be able to support their children in ways they couldn’t before.”

For example, she said, parents of first-generation students should understand what a major and minor are and the amount of time that needs to be invested in studying apart from classes.

“Coming from the culture that we come from, many times Hispanic parents want their children to work, study and help around the house,” Diaz said. “Often, that is insanely hard for students.”

Goshen College provides various resources in order to be successful while in school, including assistance in buying textbooks. “We are here for them,” Diaz said.

Achieving Hispanic Serving Institution status would not only mean that the college could qualify for federal funding for Hispanic students but that all students could benefit from improvements to academic programs that would be made possible by grants.

“The name may sound like they are focusing on Latino students, but in reality Goshen College strives to be resourceful to all students,” Diaz said.

“This will open many doors to students who have felt like they could not move on with their education,” said first-year Stephanie Esqueda.