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The cost of dropping out

by Tod Massa 16. September 2016 17:28

There is an undeniable payoff in going to a college that has been documented a number of times. Recently, the Center for Education and the Workforce found that than 95% jobs created during the recent economic recovery have gone to workers with at least some college education. SCHEV's data show that the median wage of applied science associate degree graduate in 2012-13 is $35,177  in 2015 and graduates from 2003-04 earned a median wage of $45,000 in 2015. The comparable median wages for bachelor's completers for the same years was $32,772 and $54,554. 

In 1982 I dropped out of college. Fortunately, I had no student debt and a plan to join the Army, which I did. Today, most students borrow, and many students that drop out do so with student debt. These are often the students that have the most repayment difficulty. 

Of the 76,707 students starting at Virginia institutions in 2012-13, approximately 10% dropped out after the first semester and did not enroll anywhere in Virginia or the nation in the two years following. Of these 28% (many of which are community college students) dropped out with debt averaging $3,800 and for those whom we found wage records, they had an average wage $10,653. The following year their averages wages increased to $13,589.

Forty hours per week at minimum wage for 50 weeks a year is $14,500.

The students who drop out after a year have twice as much debt and lower wages (but this appears to be a function of an increase in the reported wages as much as anything). You can see these data here. This alone seems to me to be a reason to push an aggressive college completion agenda.



Categories: General, Reports, Student Success

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