California and other states are spending billions of tax dollars on community college students who drop out before completing their studies, according to a report released Thursday.
The report by the nonprofit American Institutes for Research found that from 2004 to 2009, federal, state and local governments spent nearly $4 billion on full-time community college students who dropped out after their first year.
In California, expenditures on such students over the five-year period totaled $480 million, far more than any other state.
The report highlights a nationwide trend of increasing community college enrollment and spending but declining completion rates at the same time that state funding for higher education has dropped.
The report found that about a fifth of full-time U.S. community college students in the period studied did not return for their second year. In 2009, the most recent year for which data were available, about $1 billion was spent on students who dropped out, up 35% from 2004.
The report did not study the reasons for the low rate of success but noted that many students are ill-prepared for college, receive too few support services and are not helped by remediation.