Posted on October 20, 2011

Billions Spent in U.S. on Community College Students Who Drop Out

Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2011

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.