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Set Your Sights on Higher Education

Don't let finances block the way for you, your children or your grandchildren

AARP empowers you to pursue your goals and dreams - Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep


En español | Saida Luciano-Ross, 49, just started her first year at business school. That's headline news for her Puerto Rican parents. Luciano-Ross's mother left school in second grade to help raise her brothers and sisters. Her dad made it to high school, but then he dropped out, emigrating to New York City to work in the Garment District. In contrast, Luciano-Ross earned her bachelor's degree in business administration last May. That same week, her daughter, Veronica, who is 21, received her bachelor's degree in political science. Saida is now working toward her MBA (master of business administration). Veronica is pursuing her second bachelor's degree, this one in criminal justice, which she hopes will pave the way to law school and a career in international law. And Luciano-Ross's son, Roberto, who is 19, is just finishing his second year studying graphic design at a local community college.

See also: Higher learning.

Financing higher education for your children, grandchildren and yourself. Graduation cap with money in it.

— Fredrik Broden

The upward generational trend toward higher education among Hispanics extends far beyond this family. Despite the soaring cost of college, Latinos, along with Asians and Pacific Islanders, have the fastest rate of increase in enrollment of all ethnic groups over the past three decades, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That's not surprising.

As our economy grows more complex, schooling becomes more valuable. "Jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience," said President Barack Obama recently. And once you have that diploma, you'll earn more. "A person with a college degree," says Deborah Santiago of Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization that aims to accelerate Latino student success in higher education, "will earn over $1 million more in a lifetime than someone without a college education."

That's a key message for Hispanics. Despite the upward trend, just 19 percent of Latinos 25 and older — versus 35 percent of the general population — have an associate degree or higher. A Pew Hispanic Center study found that nearly three-quarters of Latinos who cut their education short during or right after high school said they did so to help support their family. But you can overcome the financial challenges.

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