NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Hey, College Dropouts, Stop Costing Taxpayers Millions!

October 13, 2010

The American Institutes for Research announced Monday that students who drop out of college before their sophomore year cost taxpayers millions, says the Washington Post.  

  • Between 2003 and 2008, the national tallies reached $6.2 billion in state appropriations and $2.9 billion in grants.
  • The state average was about $120.5 million.

Only about 60 percent of students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities graduate within six years.  Most students attend public institutions, and their education is subsidized by taxpayers at the average rate of about $10,000 per student per year, according to an American Institutes for Research news release.

A 2009 Public Agenda report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that the main reason students give for dropping out is an inability to juggle school, work and paying bills.  Other reasons include not being able to afford tuition and fees, needing a break, classes that were not useful and needing more time to spend with family.

So, which states spent the most money on dropouts between 2003 and 2008? 

  • The top three were California, Texas and New York, with each state spending more than $400 million on dropouts.
  • The next highest spending states were Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio, spending more than $275 million.

Source: Jenna Johnson, "Hey, College Dropouts, Stop Costing Taxpayers Millions!" Washington Post, October 11, 2010.

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