Finishing the First Lap: The Cost of First-Year Student Attrition in America’s Four-Year Colleges and Universities

American Institutes for Research

Drawing on the Obama administration’s plan to implement changes that would move the country up from its current fourth-place spot in the world’s ranking of college completion rates, this report focuses on the amount of money lost when a student fails to return to college for a second year.

From 2003 to 2008, states appropriated $6.2 billion to colleges and universities to support students who did not return for their second year of study, according to data collected from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. States also gave $1.4 billion in grants, and the federal government supplied $1.5 billion in grants, to students who did not return for a second year.

The United States spends more than any other nation on higher education, the report states, yet 30 percent of students who enter college this fall won’t return next year, and only 60 percent of students graduate from four-year institutions in six years or less.

Data tables are provided to detail each state’s expenditure levels.

Free, 23 pages.


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