States appropriated almost $6.2 billion for four-year colleges and universities between 2003 and 2008 to help pay for the education of students who did not return for year two, a report released last week says.
The dollar figures, based on government data and gathered by the nonprofit American Institutes for Research, based in Washington, are meant to put an economic exclamation point on the argument that college-completion rates need improvement.
The cost of educating students who drop out after one year accounts for 2 percent to 8 percent of states’ total higher education appropriations, said Mark Schneider, an AIR vice president and a former commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.
The figures track whether new students at 1,521 public and private colleges return for a second year at the same institution. They do not include part-time students, transfers, or those who return later to graduate.
A version of this article appeared in the October 20, 2010 edition of Education Week as College Persistence