Students walk to and from classes on the campus of the University of Colorado, in Boulder, Colo., Monday April 20, 2015. The University of Colorado is open to the public on this 4/20 marijuana holiday for the first time in three years. The university has blocked public access in recent years in an effort to snuff mass smokeouts to mark the unofficial marijuana celebration. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

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The gaps are striking.

Each year, for instance, thousands of students at the University of Colorado at Boulder start down the path of getting a bachelor’s degree. Six years later, about 69% have managed to get a degree, according to recent federal data.

Hispanic men, though? Just 58% graduated.

The story is the same at Colorado State, where 70% of all students but just 58% of Hispanic men graduate.

And at Metropolitan State University of Denver, the numbers are brutal. Of every five Hispanic men who started in 2013, only one of them got a bachelor’s degree.

The raw numbers drive the point home. In 2013, 249 Hispanic men enrolled at MSU Denver seeking a bachelor’s degree. By 2019, 46 of them had degrees. And 203 of them did not.

The disparate rate at which Hispanic men earn degrees from Colorado universities hasn’t improved much over the last decade, even as the institutions enroll more Hispanic students.

Hispanic men go to college at the lowest rates of any student group in Colorado, and all the factors that make it hard for them to get to campus — tight budgets, family obligations, unclear pathways, and few mentors — follow them through college.

“We are at this point where a valuable part of our community is in a black hole,” said Nathan Cadena, chief operating officer at the Denver Scholarship Foundation, an organization that helps Denver students enroll in and graduate college. “And it’s scary. We have got to do something about it.”


Jason Gonzales is the Higher Education and Legislative Matters Reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado. Previously, he covered K-12 and higher education for The Tennessean and Brunswick County for the Wilmington Star News. He is a 2018 Education Writers...