DALLAS, Nov. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV), in partnership with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), has awarded more than 100 students, ranging from incoming freshmen through graduate students, with complimentary roundtrip airfare as part of the ¡Lánzate!/Take Off! travel award program. The ¡Lánzate! Program, which was recognized in 2015 by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, is geared toward Hispanic college students with economic need who attend school far away from home. Students from across the nation completed online entries and submitted essays conveying how receiving a travel award would help them achieve their educational goals. In 2015, a student studying in Milwaukee wrote about the strain of finding herself more than 1,000 miles away from her family who lived in Austin, Texas. The student wrote "Studying in the Milwaukee area has made it difficult for me to see them; last Thanksgiving was my first holiday away from my family due to our inability to afford my travel expenses. My future college degree is not only mine, but a combination of hard work from my family and me. Receiving the ¡Lánzate! scholarship would greatly ease my family's financial strain to travel for my graduation and subsequently allow us to celebrate a great accomplishment together." A panel of judges made up of college professors and educational advocates met to determine the award recipients. Recipients were awarded between one and four roundtrip tickets for travel for themselves or a family member. Southwest donated 400 one-way e-passes to encourage students to continue on their paths to higher education. "Southwest Airlines has been proud to partner with HACU for 12 years as we work together to assist Hispanic youth throughout the country in making their dreams of higher education come true," said Christine Ortega, Southwest Airlines Senior Advisor, Community Affairs & Grassroots. "This travel can make it possible for a student to go home for the holidays. Sometimes that connection with family and home can make the difference between graduating and dropping out." "The entries received this year demonstrate how important family visits are to a successful higher education experience for Hispanic college students," said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. "As an organization whose mission is to champion Hispanic success in higher education, HACU is honored to partner with Southwest Airlines' ¡Lánzate! Travel Award Program to help college students stay connected with their families as part of their higher education journey." To learn more about Southwest Airlines, visit the Southwest Airlines Community. ABOUT HACUFounded in 1986, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) represents more than 450 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America and Spain. HACU is the only national association representing existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). The association headquarters are located in San Antonio, Texas, with government relations offices in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, California. This year, HACU is celebrating 30 years of championing Hispanic education. Information is available at www.hacu.net. ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.In its 46th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 53,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest operates more than 3,900 departures a day during peak travel season across a network of 99 destinations in the United States and eight additional countries with additional Cuba service to Havana, Cuba, beginning Dec. 12, 2016, and Santa Clara beginning Dec. 15, 2016, both routes subject to governmental approvals. Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded. The Company operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world, the majority of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi providing gate-to-gate connectivity. That connectivity enables Customers to use their personal devices to view video on-demand movies and television shows, as well as nearly 20 channels of free, live TV compliments of our valued Partners. Southwest created Transfarency®, a philosophy which treats Customers honestly and fairly, and in which low fares actually stay low. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply, some airlines may allow free checked bags on select routes or for qualified circumstances), and there are no change fees, though fare differences might apply. The airline proudly unveiled a bold new look: Heart. A new logo, aircraft livery, interior design featuring a new seat and Flight Attendant galley, Employee-designed uniforms, and an updated airport experience all showcase the dedication of Southwest Employees who connect Customers with what's important in their lives. From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel described by the U.S. Department of Transportation as "The Southwest Effect," a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic whenever the carrier enters new markets. With 43 consecutive years of profitability, Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. The 2015 Southwest Airlines One Report™ can be found at SouthwestOneReport.com. Book Southwest Airlines' low fares online at Southwest.com or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.