Last week, we posted College without Completion — Post #1, which discussed National Center for Educational Statistics’s published statistics on cohort graduation rates. We continue the College without Completion thread with this post.

berkeley graduation by flickr user ben.chaney

(image by flickr user ben.chaney)

In the last College without Completion post, we shared that, according to NCES, 42.7% of students did not get a bachelor’s degree from the college at which they began within 6 years (Source). In this post, we look at the effects of leaving college without a degree.

 

There are multiple ways in which a student and his or her immediate family might be affected by a student’s decision to leave college.

A student’s potential earnings, as well as a student’s quality of life, can be greatly diminished by the lack of a degree.

  • Students who have some college but no degree face a higher unemployment rate and sub-median weekly pay check (Source).
  • Students with a bachelor’s degree or a higher degree report a lower level of poverty, a slightly higher job satisfaction rate, a lower obesity rate and children that are better prepared for school (Source).

Parents may be left with a significant lost financial investment if their student fails to persist to a degree. This may include student loans that parents, as cosigners, need to help repay, even though their college-student child did not graduate.

  • 37% of the average college education is paid for by parent income and savings, with an additional 10% paid for by parent borrowing (Source).

 

The thousands upon thousands of students that, every year, leave college without graduating impact colleges, universities and the government.

Colleges and universities know that the failure of students to graduate can hurt a school’s reputation, and, potentially, their funding.

  • Graduation rates are a component used in the U.S. News and World Report’s College Rankings, a college ranking on which many students and parents depend (Source).
  • 17% of parents now look at college graduation rates when deciding where to apply (Source).
  • The College Completion Toolkit, recently announced by Vice President Joe Biden and released by the U.S. Department of Education, includes the strategy of using “performance-based funding of higher education based on progress toward completion” (Source).

 

Federal and state governments, in addition to interest in promoting general economic wellbeing, increasing personal income tax revenue, and retaining high paying jobs in the U.S., are interested in tracking why students fail to persist to a degree because it represents billions of lost public investment..

  • “States appropriated almost $6.2 billion for four-year colleges and universities between 2003 and 2008 to help pay for the education of students who did not return for year two” (Source).
  • “The federal government spent $1.5 billion and states spent $1.4 billion on grants for students who didn’t start their sophomore years” (Source).

 

From the above data, one can see that every party investing in higher education is potentially affected by a student or students leaving college without a degree. 

 

You can find more interesting studies and statistics in the Research and Insights section of the College Parents of America website.

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