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By BVS Staff

In this ranking, we highlight the 10 best value private Hispanic-serving colleges and universities in California. Our initial pool consisted of the 104 Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education in the state of California as identified by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). We then consulted PayScale.com to filter out the schools with a 20-year ROI of less than $100,000. With 20 schools remaining, we then chose the 10 private schools with the highest ROIs to include in this ranking. To rate them, we applied the methodology below. In cases in which two or more schools received the same number of points, the more affordable school was awarded the higher ranking.

Net Price
Under $15,000—4 points
Under $20,000—3 points
Under $25,000—2 points
Under $30,000—1 point

20-Year Return on ROI
Above $400,000— 4 points
Above $300,000— 3 points
Above $200,000— 2 points
Above $100,000— 1 point

Hispanic Student Organizations- 1 point per organization
Hispanic Scholarship Opportunities- 1 point
Awards and Recognition (Regarding Hispanic Higher Education)- 1 point
Additional Hispanic Student Resources (Alumni Associations, Student Advisement Councils, etc.)- 1 point per resource
Hispanic Centers and Institutes- 1 point per center or institute
Hispanic-Focused Degree Program – 1 point per program

Featured Online Programs

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  1. Loyola Marymount University

    Los Angeles, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    Loyola Marymount University is a private, Catholic Hispanic-serving institution comprised of 6,000 undergraduate students, 2,200 graduate students, and 1,100 law students. The school offers 58 major and 53 minor undergraduate programs as well as 46 master's degree programs and 3 doctoral programs. Although the student body is only a little over 20% Hispanic, there are several student organizations devoted to the Hispanic heritage and culture such as the Latino Business Student Association, the Latino Student Union, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and Sigma Lambda Gamma, a historically Latin sorority.

  2. Fresno Pacific University

    Fresno, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    Fresno Pacific University is a Christian Hispanic-serving institution that offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in over 100 different areas of study. The university's student body is over 44% Hispanic, and The Chronicle of Higher Education has named Fresno Pacific as one of the top 10 Hispanic-serving institutions for highest Hispanic graduation rates. It has also been ranked as one of the best schools for Hispanics by The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine. Classes are small, so students receive quality, individualized instruction, and over 80% of professors hold PhDs in their subject areas. FPU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  3. University of La Verne

    La Verne, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    The University of La Verne is one of the largest Hispanic-serving institutions in our ranking with just over 8,500 students. Of these, 2,713 are traditional undergraduate students; 2,163 are traditional graduate students, and 3,641 are adult undergraduate or graduate students attending La Verne from regional or online campuses. The student to teacher ratio is small at 14:1, and most classes have no more than 19 students. In terms of academics, there are 4 colleges: The College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Public Management, the La Fetra College of Education, and the College of Law. The Latino/Hispanic population makes up the largest segment of the student body at 41.6%.

  4. Notre Dame de Namur University

    Belmont, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    Notre Dame de Namur University is a Hispanic-serving institution located on the San Francisco Peninsula. A private Catholic master's college, the school offers 19 undergraduate majors, 23 undergraduate minors, 9 master's, and 1 doctoral program from its College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Management, and School of Education and Psychology. The student body is small, consisting of just 983 undergraduate students and 708 graduate students. Still, the university is diverse, and honoring diversity is one of the school's core values. Hispanic students will find a variety of resources and opportunities at Notre Dame de Namur, including Latinos Unidos, a Latino-based student organization.

  5. California Lutheran University

    Thousand Oaks, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    California Lutheran University is a small, but diverse school. The university is comprised of just 2,791 undergraduate students and 1,282 graduate students, yet 38 different states and 35 countries are represented in the student body. Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education has named CLU as one of the best colleges in America for Hispanics, and students are invited to participate in student associations like the Latin American Student Organization and the Association of Hispanic Professionals. The school offers 36 undergraduate majors and 41 minors as well as several graduate degree and certificate programs. Returning adult students may also pursue a Bachelor's Degree for Professionals from California Lutheran.

  6. La Sierra University

    Riverside, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    La Sierra University has been named the most diverse university in the West by US News & World Report. This Hispanic-serving institution is home to just 2,300 students, yet over 40 different countries are represented in the student body. The student population is 42% Hispanic, and many of these students are first generation college students. The school's academic offerings are broad; it offers over 120 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs. La Sierra is a Christian university and is affiliated with the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Classes are small, and service learning is emphasized throughout the curriculum.

  7. Whittier College

    Whittier, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    Whittier College is a Hispanic-serving institution and a 4-year liberal arts college. The student body is small, consisting of 1,615 undergraduate students plus 69 graduate students. Students of color make up 60% of this population, though, making the school one of the most diverse in the country. Whittier offers 31 majors as well as several minors and certificate programs. In terms of support for Hispanic students, the College is home to the Ortiz Program, which provides resources and opportunities for first generation Latino students, as well as the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society. All students, regardless of ethnicity, benefit from the low, 12:1 student to faculty ratio.

  8. Saint Mary's College of California

    Moraga, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    Saint Mary's College of California is a Catholic Hispanic-serving institution located just 23 miles east of San Francisco that is committed to diversity and inclusiveness. The college is comprised of approximately 4,030 students—over 2,800 undergraduate students and more than 1,100 graduate students—and 28.2% of the student body identifies as Hispanic/Latino. The school boast one of the smallest faculty to student ratios in this ranking at 11:1. This means students receive highly individualized instruction and unparalleled collaboration with professors. Enrolled students can choose from more than 40 academic areas of study.

  9. Vanguard University

    Costa Mesa, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    Vanguard University is a private, Christian Hispanic-serving institution located in beautiful Orange County, California. The school partners with the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership to support first generation Latino college students as they embark on their academic careers and prepare for professional leadership in the church and community. Academically, the school offers a comprehensive list of degree programs, including 21 undergraduate majors, 6 graduate majors, and 5 professional studies majors. Among the most popular majors are business administration, psychology, health, and communications. The school has a strong Hispanic presence with 34.8% of students identifying as Hispanic/Latino.

  10. Azusa Pacific University

    Azusa, CA


    $ $ $ $ $

    Azusa Pacific University is a faith-based Hispanic-serving institution of higher education. The school offers over 100 different degree programs in a variety of subject areas, including associates degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees. APU is routinely recognized by US News and World Report as one of America's Best Colleges. The university is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. It also boasts 13 other professional accreditations for its various degree offerings. The student body is diverse, with 47 states and 48 countries represented. Hispanic students represent the largest minority on campus. Azusa Pacific has been an active member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).

About Hispanic-Serving Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities that serve the Hispanic population in the United States receive federal funding from the US Department of Education through the White House’s Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. There are certain criteria that must be met in order for schools to qualify for this funding, though. Institutes of higher education that meet the criteria receive formal designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution, or HIS for short. One such criterion involves the school’s Hispanic population. In order to qualify as an HIS, at least 25% of the college or university’s full-time student body must be of Hispanic descent. A certain percentage of these students must also be from low-income families. Furthermore, the school must offer either two-year associates degree programs or four-year bachelor’s degree programs. Finally, the school must apply for formal HIS designation through the Department of Education. Once this application is approved, schools can use the federal funding for a variety of educational services including curriculum development and enhancement, academic tutoring, building remodels, student support services, and more.
There were 472 colleges and universities in the United States that met the criteria for federal HIS status, and the number is growing. These Hispanic-serving institutions enroll almost 2 million students. The Pew Research Center has reported that Hispanic student college enrollment is now exceeding the enrollment of both black and white high school graduates.

About the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)

The educational association in the United States that represents Hispanic-serving institutions is called the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). Current enrollment in the HACU exceeds 470 colleges and universities. These schools are located in the US as well as in Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Spain. The HACU members in the US account for more than two-thirds of the Hispanic college students in America. The purpose of the HACU is to support Hispanic students in their pursuit of higher education. The associates researches and analyzes educational policies that affect Hispanic college students, for instance. It also offers scholarships and career services, arranges internships, and more.

Best Value Hispanic Serving Colleges and Universities

This ranking of Hispanic-serving colleges and universities includes schools that offer unparalleled value to members of their Hispanic student body. These are institutions of higher education that are not only affordable, but also go the extra mile to provide the support and resources that Hispanic students need to be successful in their classes and in their future careers. Many offers special scholarships for Hispanic students, and are even home to degree programs related to Hispanic heritage. All of these schools host student organizations specifically for Hispanic students so that they can become active in student life on campus.

Hispanic-Serving Colleges and Universities: Background

Hispanic higher education in the United States hasn’t always been what it is today. Prior to 1980, college wasn’t an option for many Hispanics, and many of those who did pursue a degree didn’t end up finishing school. Around this time, proponents of postsecondary education for Hispanics began appealing to lawmakers for more federal funding for colleges and universities whose student bodies reflected a higher percentage of Hispanics. As a result, Hispanic-serving institutions were granted federal status in 1992. In 1995, these schools were granted $12 million by Congress under the Higher Education Act. Federal funding for Hispanic institutions has increased exponentially. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been granted to HSIs for student services such as tutoring and counseling as well as for curriculum development and teaching and learning resources.

Hispanic-Serving Colleges and Universities: Financial Aid

All college students must consider their finances when it comes to choosing a school. For many Hispanic students who come from low-income families, though, the financial burden is even heavier. For these students, financial aid isn’t just nice; it’s a necessity. Luckily, there are specific types of grants and scholarships that are reserved just for Hispanic students. Some of these scholarships are listed below:

  • Hispanic Heritage Youth Award
  • FUNED Scholarship for Mexican Nationals
  • Hispanic Scholarship Council Scholarship
  • Victor Grifols Roura Scholarship

Some scholarships for Hispanic students are intended for students enrolling in certain schools or studying specific subjects. Others are more general. Moreover, there are scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students of Hispanic ethnicity.

In addition to school and subject-specific scholarships for Hispanic students, there are also specialized scholarships for different types of Hispanic students as well as those with special circumstances. These include scholarships for: Hispanic women, Hispanic graduate students, first-generation Hispanic students, and migrant workers and their families.

Why Attend a Hispanic-Serving College or University?

Many students find themselves wondering whether or not to attend a Hispanic-serving college or university. While it’s absolutely a personal decision, there are many pros of attending an HSI. Most Latino students who choose to pursue a postsecondary education do opt to attend a Hispanic-serving institution, and for many, these schools feel more like home. When deciding whether an HSI is for you, consider whether you may find it comforting to study alongside other students with a similar background to your own. Generally speaking, Hispanic-serving colleges and universities also have more professors of Hispanic descent as well. This can be helpful for students looking for a mentor as they become accustomed to the postsecondary academic environment.
Hispanic-serving colleges and universities know that Hispanic students have unique needs and make a concerted effort to meet them. For instance, these students are far more likely to be first-generation students than their non-Hispanic classmates, and many of them come from families with financial restraints. This means that they could be less prepared for college life and have more obligations to their family than students from other backgrounds. It’s no wonder that without the support they need, these students often drop out of school before completing a degree program. This is why HSIs provide programs and options to support the success of their Hispanic students. These may include flexible scheduling, tutoring services, remediation, and more.

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