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What is the Great Debate? 

NHI's Great Debate is a communications and leadership development program for ambitious and courageous young people. If you are or know a young person committed to making meaningful change in the world, and are driven toward building up our community, NHI and the Great Debate experience is a must.

For over three decades, first-year NHI members have come to harness the power of their voices and engage with perspective-changing ideas. The Great Debate offers a rigorous learning experience for high-achieving, high-ability 9th-grade youth who aspire to community and civic leadership roles in the future.

Who is eligible to apply for the Great  Debate?

All students are welcome to apply for the Great Debate if they meet the following requirements:

  • Currently enrolled in the 9th grade
  • Has a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • First-time NHI participant

Recommended Backgrounds:

  • Students who seek to enroll in and graduate from a four-year college/university

  • Students interested in increasing their knowledge of Latino/Hispanic/Latino cultures

  • Students who want to expand their peer network and receive mentorship

PLUS at least 2 of the following goals:

  • Students who aspire to be a community leader

  • Students who seek to strengthen their communication skills

  • Students who enjoy service and volunteerism

  • Students involved in extracurricular and/or enrichment programs

  • Students involved in: speech/debate, student council, volunteerism, honor society, Spanish club, Latino/Hispanic/Multicultural club, athletics, journalism


What are the application requirements?

All participating students must:

  • Upload a copy of their most recent report cards or transcripts upon registration
  • Read the Parent Release Policy
  • Complete and upload the Parent Release Form, which is due upon acceptance to the program
  • NHI COVID Policies

What does the admissions process look like?

  1. Complete online registration and submit a $25 registration fee
  2. Upload a recent report card or transcript (last reporting period for 2022-2023 school year accepted)
  3. Enrollment Office reviews the application within 1-3 business days
  4. Upon acceptance, please pay a $150 non-refundable deposit within 10 days
  5. Upload the completed Parent Release Form
  6. Complete final tuition payment by assigned deadline (flexible payment plans available)

What is the cost of the Great Debate?

Tuition for the Great Debates covers four to six days on a college in dorms, a full meal plan, private access to training areas, a college day exclusively for program participants, a staff-student ratio of one adult to every fifteen students, supplies and materials, a commemorative program T-Shirt, a certificate of participation, and a highly-motivating curriculum. Upon official acceptance to the program, NHI requires a 150.00 USD non-refundable deposit to secure your spot. Families manage tuition in various ways from setting up an approved payment plan, seeking out sponsors, easy online fundraising, or even qualify for special select community grants. NHI makes it a point to work with each family on their specific plans for tuition.

Students who complete in the Great Debate will be granted all the rights, privileges, and honors of NHI membership, so long as they remain in good standing and will hence be invited to future opportunities for personal development as well as volunteerism and faculty development within the organization.

The cost of the Great Debate is broken down  into distinct fees, all of which will culminate in supplying your student with the adequate resources for a fulfilling and fun leadership experience :

  • Application Fee - $25 (required to complete application, non-refundable)
  • Great Debate Non-Refundable Deposit - $150
  • Great Debate Tuition: $645 (does not include the $150 deposit)

What does the payment schedule look like?

NHI will provide details about the payment schedule upon acceptance into the program. 

NHI is committed to flexibility - that is, payment plans and fundraising tools are available to all families who request them. 

Spring Admissions

Selective admissions policies are now in place until programs reach full capacity.


The Great Debate is able to take place due to the generosity of our host institutions. The locations for in-person Great Debates are as follows:

Texas Star Great Debate (6-day)

Our Lady of the Lake University

San Antonio, Texas

June 18 - 23, 2024


Saint Francis University
Loretto, Pennsylvania

June 28 - July 3rd, 2024

Austin College
Sherman, Texas
June 6 - 9, 2024



Augustana College
Rock Island, IL

July 2-7, 2024 


University of San Diego
San Diego, California
July 9 - 14, 2024


National Hispanic Institute

P.O. Box 220
Maxwell, Texas 78656

+1 (512) 357-6137

Contact Us


Hours of Operations:

M-F, 8:30am - 12:00pm; 1:30pm - 5:30pm CDT