Why the Dropout Rate is Rising for USA College Students


Since the 1970’s, the college completion rate in the United States has consistently seen a decline. This has become a growing concern especially as the 16-24 year old age bracket has been affected the most.

A considerable more amount of high school students have been entering college since the 1980’s. While this can be viewed as a positive change, unfortunately the number of graduating students has not increased. Compared to the 1970’s, there has been a 5% decrease in a 25 year olds likeliness of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. This data was found through a study performed by professors Michael Lovenheim, John Bound, and Sarah Turner.

Why the college dropout rates have increased is because of numerous reasons. Those along with the repercussions on the economy and steps to resolve it are outlined ahead.

Increase in College Tuition

FundingU, a student loan lending company, surveyed their customers and found that more than half were forced to drop out of college due to lack of funding. Approximately 79% of the surveyed students claimed they would have to delay their graduation due to financial constraints. 55% said they had issues finding enough to pay for college.

The average cost of tuition during the 2017-2018 school year was $34,740 at private institutions. Public colleges averaged at $9,970 and $25,620 for out-of-state residents. After mortgage debt in the United States, student loan debt is the second largest debt category. It amounts to approximately $1.48 trillion across 44 million borrowers.

It’s clear that the rising cost of tuition is out of reach for many students. This is causing financial situations that result in prolonging graduation or not reaching it at all. These are loans that most likely won’t be paid back for a decade. Understanding this, some young adults may not even be considering a college education knowing the financial repercussions.

However, cert IV training and assessment online has seen an incline in interest, especially in Australia. Many students have chosen to pursue a digital education in light of the rising prices for conventional brick and mortar institutions.

Forced to Work Longer Hours

To meet the rising costs of college, students are forced to work longer hours to be able to afford tuition. An increase in hours of employment means less time is available to study and attend classes. This can easily have an affect on students ability to graduate or the time it will take them to reach it.

As well, having less time to complete labs or extensive assignments such as an expository essay can decrease grades. Together these factors can increase stress or anxiety levels. This potentially further adds to why those enrolled may consider dropping out.

How it Affects the Economy

It’s common knowledge that the level of education someone reaches can raise their income level. This is because they are able to specialize in specific fields and acquire in-demand occupations. Without higher education, it can be more difficult to find these high paying jobs.

So, if less students are graduating from college, there will be a decrease in higher earning and specialized employees. According to the American Institutes for Research, $4.5 billion in earnings and tax revenue was lost in 2010 because of the college dropout rate. This was the result of 1.1 million students entering college to receive a bachelor’s degree and 500,000 not graduating.

The lost tax revenue and earnings could have helped develop institutions, communities, and similar infrastructure. Also, less educated individuals may struggle to find employment and will have to rely on government assistance. This only further worsens the problem.

What’s Being Done About it

This is not an issue that has gone unnoticed. Certain states are beginning to reallocate their resources in an attempt to raise graduation rates. Specifically, an increase in expenditures for student services has had positive affects on such rates.

In 2011, Vice President Joe Biden spoke on this topic, sayingRight now we’ve got an education system that works like a funnel when we need it to work like a pipeline… We have to make the same commitment to getting folks across the graduation stage that we did to getting them into the register’s office. The dreams and skills of our college graduates will pave the way to a bright economic future for our nation “.

Since then, the federal government has begun developing college completion tool kits. These are strategies that governors and states can implement to help raise higher education rates. Financial incentives are one of the many propositions. Others include:

  • Allow high school students to more easily gain college credits.
  • Improve high school preparation for college.
  • Restructure curriculum and grading to aid students in graduating on time.

While the college dropout rate in the United States is a definite problem, it not unfix-able. Lowering tuition rates, preparing high school students more and reallocating resources are crucial areas to target. More action is being taken than ever before to help students graduate. With this momentum, it’s fair to assume that the United States could see a decrease in college dropouts in further years.

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