NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 31, 2006

Many colleges -- public and private, two-year and four-year -- will accept students who have not graduated from high school or earned equivalency degrees, says the New York Times.

Currently, there are nearly 400,000 students who have not graduated college or earned equivalency degrees nationwide, accounting for 2 percent of all college students, 3 percent at community colleges and 4 percent at commercial, or profit-making, colleges, according to a survey by the United States Education Department in 2003-2004.

This trend is fueling a debate over whether the students should even be in college and whether state financial aid should pay their way. For example:

  • Supporters of the standards movement frown on social promotion and emphasize measurable performance in high school.
  • Yet, a college degree is widely considered essential to later success, some educators say even students who could not complete high school should be allowed to attend college.
  • In New York, most of these students receive federal and state financial aid, up to $9,000 for the neediest. However, Governor George E. Pataki tried to withdraw state tuition grants from students without high school diplomas, saying the students should show their commitment to education and earn 24 college credits before the state gives them financial aid.

Meanwhile, the New York State Education Department says colleges should be more selective in whom they admit. This month, it proposed that students without high school credentials be required to pass more demanding tests to show that they could handle a "collegiate program of study."

Source: Karen W. Arenson, "Can't Complete High School? Go Right to College," New York Times, May 30, 2006.

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