Hispanics in Higher Education and the Texas Top 10% Law
This paper examines the consequences of changes in Hispanic college enrollment after affirmative action was banned and replaced by an admission guarantee for students who graduate in the top 10% of their high school class. We use administrative data on applicants, admittees, and enrollees from the two most selective public institutions and Texas Education Agency data about high schools to evaluate whether and how application, admission, and enrollment rates changed under the three admission regimes. Despite popular claims that the top 10% law has restored diversity to Texas’s public flagships, our analyses that account for secular changes in the size of graduation cohorts show that Hispanics are more disadvantaged relative to whites under the top 10% admission regime at both University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. Simulations of Hispanics’ gains and losses at each stage of the college pipeline reveal that affirmative action is the most efficient policy to diversify college campuses, even in highly segregated states like Texas.