Montclair State University announced on March 8 that it had met the criteria to be recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), making it eligible to apply for the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (DHSI) program — which provides grants for expanding educational opportunities and attainment of Hispanic students — although the eligibility does not automatically secure grants for Montclair State.
The U.S. Department of Education requires that Hispanic students must comprise 25 percent of enrolled full-time undergraduates to meet the federal definition of an HSI. The distinction of being an HSI only takes into account the 25 percent threshold, and it is not based on any programs a university may or may not offer.
The grants Montclair State is attempting to apply for are estimated to be worth between $500,000 and $650,000, according to the Federal Register. The DHSI Program — also known as Title V — grants are awarded on an annual basis for five years. The U.S. Department of Education specifies that funds may be used for construction or renovation of instructional facilities and scientific or laboratory equipment for teaching and faculty development, among other purposes.
“I will say that this is a huge thing that is going to affect a lot of people in ways that we may not even see coming just yet,” said Max Vazquez, President of LASO. “With that being said, however, there’s just too much to think about and consider to give an appropriate response in a matter of a couple of days.”
“Providing excellent educational opportunities for a diverse student body is both a moral and economic imperative, helping to develop a qualified work force and to enhance each graduate’s potential to succeed professionally,” said President Susan Cole in a press release.
As of December 2015, Hispanic students account for 28 percent of Montclair State’s undergraduate population.
“It’s great that we have so many Hispanic students here, but are we really helping them?” said Elena Medina, a senior journalism major. “The Spanish program is lacking. I’m a Latin American and Latino studies minor and we haven’t been able to make it into a major. How is that possible when 25 percent of the student body is Hispanic?”
Montclair State is consistently ranked in Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education’s “Top 100 Colleges for Hispanics.”
Montclair State is the seventh university in New Jersey to be eligible and could possibly be part of the less-than-5 percent of colleges that receive funding from Title V. Twenty-five other New Jersey colleges are eligible to receive grants through the DHSI program.