Special Report
Budget & Finance

Costs of Not Graduating Tallied by Researchers

The cumulative costs to the public from the nation’s dropouts are in the billions, for both lost taxes and spending on social programs.
June 19, 2006 2 min read

Young people who fail to earn a high school diploma do so at enormous cost to themselves and to society, according to data presented at a 2005 conference at Teachers College, Columbia University, on the social costs of an inadequate education:

• Over a lifetime, an 18-year-old who does not complete high school earns about $260,000 less than an individual with a high school diploma, and contributes about $60,000 less in federal and state income taxes. The combined income and tax losses aggregated over one cohort of 18-year-olds who do not complete high school is about $192 billion, or 1.6 percent of the gross domestic product. (Cecilia Elena Rouse, economist, Princeton University)

Feature Stories
The Down Staircase

Costs of Not Graduating Tallied by Researchers

GED Battery No Substitute for Diploma

Mapping Out High School Graduation

Charts: The High School Pipeline

Adding It All Up
Opening Doors
Student Profiles
About This Report
Table of Contents

• Individuals with a high school diploma live longer, have better indicators of general health, and are less likely to use publicly financed health-insurance programs than high school dropouts. If the 600,000 18-year-olds who failed to graduate in 2004 had advanced one grade, it would save about $2.3 billion in publicly financed medical care, aggregated over a lifetime. (Peter Muennig, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University)

• Adults who lack a high school diploma are at greater risk of being on public assistance. If all those receiving assistance who are high school dropouts instead had a high school diploma, the result would be a total cost savings for federal welfare spending, food stamps, and public housing of $7.9 billion to $10.8 billion a year. (Jane Waldfogel et al., Columbia University School of Social Work)

• In the 2004 election, college graduates were nearly three times as likely to vote as Americans without a high school diploma. (Jane Junn, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University)

• High school dropouts are far more likely to commit crimes and be incarcerated than those with more education. A 1 percent increase in the high school completion rate of men ages 20 to 60 would save the United States as much as $1.4 billion a year in reduced costs from crime incurred by victims and society at large. (Enrico Moretti, economist, University of California, Berkeley)

Read more information about the symposium, as well as copies of the papers.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Budget & Finance How Kids Benefit When Principals Get a Say in Spending Federal COVID-19 Aid
In some districts, principals play a key role in targeting federal pandemic relief money, but in other places they're left out.
8 min read
Nicole Moore, the principal at Indian Mills School, stands near the summer literacy program held in a small lot at Fawn Lake Village in Shamong, New Jersey on July 6, 2021. Moore worked with teachers to develop a summer literacy program for disadvantaged students who live in the district.
Nicole Moore, principal of Indian Mills School, in Shamong, N.J., worked with a teacher and the district superintendent to start a summer program using federal aid for COVID-19 relief.
Eric Sucar for Education Week
Budget & Finance Some School Districts Are Feeling COVID-19 Stimulus Envy
Thousands of districts got little to nothing from recent federal stimulus aid, surfacing longstanding tensions over inadequate school funding.
11 min read
An old swing-set on a playground at Heritage Elementary School in Lewis Center, OH on July 7, 2021. New construction and repairs will be paid for by a school levy since the district didn’t qualify for pandemic relief funding.
The Zionsville school district in Indiana is one of roughly 1,000 in the U.S. that received no money from the second and third rounds of federal stimulus aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maddie McGarvey for Education Week
Budget & Finance Quiz Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Education Funding?
Quiz Yourself: How much do you know about what's going on with education funding?
Budget & Finance School Buildings Are Crumbling. Here's Why It's So Hard to Fix Them
As the pandemic comes to an end and districts prepare to fully reopen schools, they face new construction costs and deadline pressures.
10 min read
Image of an excavator in front of a school building.
iStock/Getty