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What Are the Costs of College Dropouts?

Current thinking indicates that everyone should attend college and graduate. Last year, President Obama declared a national goal of having the highest percentage of college graduates in the world by 2020. Yet a new report issued by the American Institutes for Research “Finishing the First Lap: The Cost of First-Year College Attrition in America’s Four-Year Colleges and Universities,” reveals that 30% of those who enter college, do not return for the second year.

The report focuses its attention on the $7.6 billion in grant money from state governments over a five-year period that is lost.  Another $1.5 billion in federal grants were spent by the federal government.  That’s more than $9 billion in aid that goes to students who barely spend enough time at college to learn their way around campus.  According to the report, “13 states posted more than $200 million of state funds lost to students dropping out before the second year of college.”

The states include California ($467 million), Texas ($441 million), New York ($403 million), Illinois ($290 million), North Carolina ($285 million), Ohio ($277 million), Florida ($275 million), Indiana ($268 million), Michigan ($239 million), Georgia ($237 million); Louisiana ($213 million), Tennessee ($205 million) and Kentucky ($201 million)

Nationally, only about 60 percent of students graduate from four-year colleges and universities within six years. The study did not examine community colleges, where first-year dropout rates are even higher.

I believe that the focus needs to be on why these students, the “better students” who survived the K-12 system, dropout.  Readers of this blog are aware of my feelings that not everyone needs to go to college and that colleges continue to build seats which they must fill.  Students are aware that high school criteria may not make a difference in determining if they go to college.  Colleges need to validate high school work by not lowering their standards in order to fill their seats.

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