03/09/2012 04:33 pm ET

The Top 25 Institutions Graduating Latinos: College Graduates Are Critical For The Country's Economy

In a time when more than half of the country's total population growth was driven by an increase in the Hispanic population, the academic achievement and subsequent economic role of Latinos is of interest to many.

This week, the Washington D.C.-based non-profit Excelencia in Education released a report that lists the 25 colleges that see the most Latinos graduate from their institutions - many of them in the south.

The report, entitled, "Finding Your Workforce: The Top 25 Institutions Graduating Latinos," also highlights the strides and shortcomings that U.S. Latinos face in terms of post-secondary college attainment.

Over the last decade, the number of Latinos with bachelor’s degrees or higher, jumped from 2.1 million to 3.8 million -- a remarkable 80 percent increase.

But while the number of Latinos graduating from college last year exceeded the national college completion goal and put it on track for the 2020 national target, Latinos still trail behind other groups in higher-educational attainment.

The number of Latinos with associate degrees or higher is 21 percent. In comparison, the rate stands at 30 percent among Blacks, 44 percent among Whites, and 57 percent among Asians.

In 2010, President Obama signed an Executive Order on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. He made the following remarks on the educational disparities: "this is not just a Latino problem; this is an American problem. We've got to solve it because if we allow these trends to continue, it won’t just be one community that falls behind -– we will all fall behind together."

It is estimated that Latinos will account for 75 percent of the nation’s labor growth over the next decade.

"We need to celebrate the progress, but know that more needs to be done," said Deborah Santiago, the Vice President of Policy and Research for Excelencia in a press call announcing the report’s publication.

Finding Your Workforce, is the first of six studies to be released this year as a part of the organization’s Ensuring America’s Future (EAF) initiative.