Posted on December 8, 2011

Cost of High School Dropouts Draining US Taxpayer

Reuters, December 7, 2011

High school dropouts on average receive $1,500 a year more from government than they pay in taxes because they are more likely to get benefits or to be in prison, according to a U.S. study released on Wednesday.


The findings, based on U.S. Census Bureau data from 2009-2010, illustrate the cost advantage of programs that persuade dropouts to re-enroll in school instead of becoming a financial drain on society, the study’s sponsors said.

The cost of getting a high school dropout back to school and through to graduation is $13,000 a year, or roughly $33,000 total, said Jack Wuest of the Alternative Schools Network, one of the study’s sponsors.

And yet over a dropout’s entire working life, he or she receives $71,000 more on average in cash and in-kind benefits than paid in taxes. The societal costs may include imprisonment, government-paid medical insurance and food stamps.

In contrast, high school graduates pay $236,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits, and college degree holders pay $885,000 more in taxes than they receive.

Lifetime earnings of dropouts totaled $595,000, the study found, compared to $1,066,000 earned by high school graduates and $1,509,000 by those with a two-year junior college degree.


The highest dropout rates were among black and Hispanic men, at up to 30 percent.


27 responses to “Cost of High School Dropouts Draining US Taxpayer”

  1. Jake says:

    The problem seems to be welfare and immigration.

    Newt Gingrich and Pres. Clinton put into law a very effective welfare reform that had a major effect on the numbers on welfare. Pres. Obama reversed the program and the welfare ranks again exploded. Pres. Obama approach to immigration enforcement also seems ill conceived swelling the numbers of illegal aliens in the country. Obama’s current policy is to deport only serious criminals and to file lawsuits against states that seek to do the job of enforcing the immigration laws.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is how to destroy America — Import millions of uneducatable people, who will simply bankrupt the society.

  3. Urban Teacher says:

    At one state university I know of, immigrant students of a certain ethnic background who qualify for a complete tuition waver, enroll, but never attend a single class. They can do that for a year before being kicked out. Of course, the university gets taxpayer money for every student enrolled, even if they do not attend classes, though this may eventually change.

    One change being talked about is that state subsidies will only be given when students pass a course, which, if done, could have interesting consequences on the quality of education.

  4. Hirsch says:

    Don’t panic, readers of Amren. I saw a story on “AOL Latino” today where Eva Longoria (of “Desperate Housewives” fame) said that Hispanic women emigrants become entrepeneurs at three times the rate of white Americans. And Ms. Longoria is a well-paid Hollywood actor, like Sean Penn or Alec Baldwin, so she’s knows what she’s talking about.

  5. Question Diversity says:

    Lifetime earnings of dropouts totaled $595,000, the study found, compared to $1,066,000 earned by high school graduates and $1,509,000 by those with a two-year junior college degree.

    Just give everyone a high school diploma as a civil right of turning 18 years old and a two-year college associates degree as a privilege of turning 21 years old. That way, nobody will ever have to be on welfare, and nobody will commit and violent crime, and everyone will earn $1.5 million in aggregate earnings in their lifetime.

    And if you think that would actually happen, I have a Golden Gate to sell you at a bargain basement price.

  6. patriot says:

    Years ago blacks in Newark NJ protested about how few blacks were getting high school diplomas. They demanded diplomas. Diplomas were key to getting high paying jobs they said.

    So the city caved in, and gave them diplomas – which soon became worthless. Afterwards you needed to have at least some college in order to get jobs that used to only require a high school diploma.

  7. Rhialto says:

    The liberal solution: Give all students a college degree, so they can be college degree holders.

    Once again, I see that liberals do not understand the difference between cause and correlation.

    What might benefit many dropouts is attending vocational schools, where they could learn job skills. Job skills plus a good work ethic should yield a decent income, at least as much as having a B.S. in Postindustrial Urban Design.

  8. old vet says:

    Hell, just a good work ethic will go far. Show up on time ready to work and then do the task assigned well and people would be fine.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Logical discrimination based on full information is in order in dealing with stats about dropping out of school. In many instances, the bad effects of dropping out are less than the bad effects of “toughing out” a meaningless educational experience.

    I wouldn’t treat an enemy’s dog the way mandatory schooling treats kids, Black or White, who get far off the rails and yet are pushed to stay on the rolls and fill a chair. Part of the “noble” concern for keeping kids in school is just keeping the per capita state and fed aid flowing into the school system. Part of it is genuinely noble. Disaggregating the data–logical discrimination–is needed. Part of what’s off the road and into the deep ditch is the persistent refusal of School of Education

    researchers to simply get anecdotal evidence from actual field work. If just one of the campus verbal engineers could down two shots of straight vodka and a breath mint in order to get human enough to visit productively with, say, a good-hearted, honest 90 IQ Black male student, he/she would find out more toward productive policy possibilities (however few they may be ) than emerges in the endless addiction to mere controlled study and data data data. ( A society as far gone as “ours” , is probably destined to attain historical salience as the chief

    source in this historical period of really good sardonic standup comedy material for Chinese comedians!!).

  10. Anonymous says:

    #1 Jake…don’t believe the propaganda about welfare reform. Here in NYC they were transferred from one welfare program to another. This has been going on since the welfare reform bill passed. At some point, many of them were told to apply for SSI. That’s the hidden truth behind welfare reform; the SSI rolls exploded. In NYC, it’s much easier for blacks and hispanics to get approved. Especially in the Bronx. Also easier for alcoholics and drug addicts. In Flushing, Queens the asian applicants very often get sent to an asian doctor to be evaluated. They’ve got an advantage there.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dropouts spend money on food, shelter, energy and ‘bling’, as long as there is sufficient wealth transfers and minimum wage unskilled employment putting cash in their hands.

    Because consumer spending trickles up, the shareholder class likes to see more of it, so there will be no political pressure to stop the flood of immigrants/ future dropouts.

  12. aj says:

    To be fair, I think drop outs only costing us $70,000 is probably a big savings.

    Those blacks and hispanics who do get their high school diploma and use it as a ticket that get on the government employment gravy train probably cost us over a million each, given the extravagant government benefits, pensions and salaries for phony make work jobs.

    Look at that article a few days back about the superintendent of the Philadelphia school system getting a $900,000 severance package….

  13. MSNPC says:

    Yet liberals keep swinging their hammer of MORE MONEY FOR EDUCATION, MORE DIVERSITY. You will never hear a liberal mention the fact that black kids live by a silent oath that says staying in school and making good grades is “ACTING WHITE”!

  14. Anonymoose says:

    In my thinking right now, I have in mind more the issue of people who were the children of native-born parents, than the children of uneducated immigrants. Isn’t part of the problem how so-called dropouts are treated? I have personally supervised young people who stopped attending school after eighth grade in some cases. These people could read and write adequately, at least adequately enough to work for a living and absorb further training.

    The problem we have is that somewhere along the line, someone decided that people would be more employable if they had a higher educational level. A push was begun to encourage people to stay in school. Okay so far, the other end of the stick was extortion plain and simple. Stay in school or be an employment pariah. Smart idea, Huh? Make people who are having trouble in school unemployable on top of that.

    My experience with this issue is instructive. In the 1960s I needed an alternative to the public high school. My family had no money. Now, I was willing to work and pay my way through a private alternative school. There were at least two in downtown Chicago where I lived which were low cost. But it was impossible for me to get a job even under these circumstance. Eventually, I went to college without my diploma. After graduating, because I attended college on need-based financial aid and took a long time finishing, I was still barely employable.

    Interestingly, I did not start to get credible jobs until I approached the age of forty and fell under anti-discrimination law. This is the world we live in, and have lived in for many decades.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Old Vet , what you are saying was true 30 years ago when the system was still run by common sense and on the basis of “loyalty to the worker will beget loyalty to the company.”

    Nowadays if you are fortunate enough to procure a job , you first have to work a trial period at slave wages with no benefits . Then you are given an employee survey filled with ambiguous questions .Based on your answers to this test which has no correct or incorrect answers it will be determined whether or not you are some kind of a threat to the health of the company . If you then still have a job it will then be drummed into you that you ,” cannot expect to work for the same company for any appreciable time.” This way when you are layed off simply to raise the company’s stock value , hopefully you will not be angry about it and cause trouble . The only ones that can expect a lifetime career nowadays are the CEO’s and upper level officers . Not only do they make hundreds of thousands or even millions per year but you have to pay them a separation package worth a years salary and benefits to fire them . So it is usually cheaper to keep them short term which results in job security for them .

    So it doesn’t matter how hard you work for them or how well you do your job . Bottom line is , they now want disposable workers . You must be loyal to the company but you must not expect loyalty back .

    I saw all of this in action with the large corporation I used to work for in the nineties . And then read the very same “idiot logic” in my college age kid’s psychology book .

    That’s the way it’s done nowadays . In my laymen’s opinion , it cannot possibly be a self sustaining system .

  16. Sureesh says:

    Actually, it’s the ‘children of immigrants’ who are DOMINATING the science and engineering fields and outachieving whitey- but it’s the Chinese and Indian immigrants who do that.

    It’s convenient how we become invisible both in the eyes of liberal whites and white racialists as both groups LOVE to point out how Blacks and Hispanics fail but refuse to recognize how we Indians SUCCEED in America.

  17. June says:

    Do the high schools still teach “shop” courses? Not all are suited for college or even want to go.The idea of pushing eveyone toward higher education is foolish. More trade schools are needed for those who want to go into the building trades, automotive, hospitality area, or any number of jobs not requiring a college degree. This may not stop the drop out rate completely, but it would save some of these kids. I’m not speaking of children brought here illegally by their parents. Mexico’s schooling is free. We don’t need to be paying for them. I’m talking about American kids.

  18. Anonymous says:


    This is one of the most infuriating things about the mainstream media. You literally cannot trust a word they say on immigration or race. The statement that Latino women become entrepreneurs at a higher rate than other Americans could mean absolutely ANYTHING. What are they doing? Are they signing up for Amway? Are they hawking stolen merchandise door to door? Do they run some kind of unlicensed taco truck?

    Something tells me these Hispanic women are NOT founding the next Apple.

  19. NBJ says:

    @ #17 June..

    I asked the very same question a while back here, and the answer is no. We had vocational centers when I was in High School, but they were done away with because most of those classes were filled with blacks, and guess who complained the loudest that their kids were getting the shaft as far as education was concerned? So, instead of giving those kids who were obviously not cut out for higher education (including Whites) a chance to learn a trade and become productive citizens, they were forced to take classes that were beyond them and interested them not at all, and I believe this is where the dumbing down of our educational system began in earnest.

    We had a guy running for Governor in our state last election, and part of his plan to fix the dropout rate was to bring back vocational centers, but sadly he was defeated. He has said he will run again this election cycle, and I pray he wins since the current Governor has been a TOTAL failure.

  20. The Bobster says:

    It’s convenient how we become invisible both in the eyes of liberal whites and white racialists as both groups LOVE to point out how Blacks and Hispanics fail but refuse to recognize how we Indians SUCCEED in America.


    I happen to be both a racialist and a STEM professional. Your kind are NOT invisible to us. We see our corporations importing you H-1b’s to lower wages and displace older, more competent Americans. The only way you succeed is by gaming the system. Your work is mediocre at best.

  21. Anonymous says:

    There is no consequence for dropping out of school. None. Your reward for staying in school used to be employment. Now the government has made jobs for minorities unnecesary. If one tries to achieve in thier culture they are called a sucker. We reward that attitude with free government money. Why go to school? Complete waste of time.

  22. Allan says:

    Generally, the problem with High School dropout is a lack of a solid elementary school education, which often can be blamed on lack of support from the home. Once they are in high school it is too late for the school to do much of anything. If Mom is using the well-fare money to buy dope or alcohol for her boyfriend, the kids will suffer–and this is true, whether the kids are Black, White, or Purple.

  23. Anonymous says:


    Perhaps (?) an underlying issue is the (gratuitously?) presumed

    wisdom of requiring young children at ages like 5, 6 years to

    enter school? The assumption is that not getting at them at a ripe time is somewhat comparable to Chinese footbinding in its

    restrictive and crippling effect upon harnessing learning potential. Stated differently, if they don’t get started early,

    they have lost something needed that can’t be replaced. A

    couple decades ago, I read a reearcher serving home schooling who contended there was no replicated research that anything was lost at all in learning potential by having children enter school and begin reading instruction at, say, ages 8 or 9 or later. I would hope by now this question has been definitively resolved by way of research??. It should never have been neglected. However, the lizard in the woodpile on this matter may be that if if you get into maturation rates (indicated by

    such tasks as hand-eye coordination, capacity to copy faithfully a simple design, etc. etc.,) the evidence is overwhelming that there are significant differentials in rate of early childhood biological–biological–maturation along lines of gender and of race. As any competent and honest psychiartist dealing with paranoid schizophrenics realizes deeply: any pattern of delusional living requires evading THIS MATTER in order to evade THAT MATTER and THE OTHER MATTER and so on and on. American society mimics on a social and media-inculcated “consensual” basis, the malady of individual systemitized delusions: a delu-sphere, to be sure.

  24. Periapsis says:

    Surreesh, the reasons why white children are not doing as well in science and math are as follows:

    They know they are being discriminated against in favor of your kind.

    Many otherwise promising white kids are trapped in school systems filled with violent non-whites that make it impossible to learn. To these little terrorists, there is no value to learning and therefore why should whitey’s kids learn?

    Three there is the two-tier education system here. One set of schools is reserved for the elite, the other is dumbed down daycare for the darkies and the poor whites the rich look down their hooked noses at as “trailer trash.” They teach them more about condoms and why Katie has two mommies instead of skills they need to excel in anything other than crime and violence.

    And I remind you I am way ahead of the game in science and can hold my own in math quite well to most people anywhere. I can see how my brethren are being oppressed by the darkies running my nation, and rest assured many whites do resent and despise the presence of Asians in their midst, especially the ones who look down on us.

  25. Oligomer says:

    In response to Sureesh …

    “Actually, it’s the ‘children of immigrants’ who are DOMINATING the science and engineering fields and outachieving whitey- but it’s the Chinese and Indian immigrants who do that.

    It’s convenient how we become invisible both in the eyes of liberal whites and white racialists as both groups LOVE to point out how Blacks and Hispanics fail but refuse to recognize how we Indians SUCCEED in America.”

    I am not so sure your first premise is true. I have yet to meet an academic immigrant to the US or UK (I am UK educated, but a prof. at a US institution), from China or India who was not from a background of privilege … and therefore the offspring of such immigrants would also have the same afforded to them. The truth is that a very elite minority of China and India are able to enter the US. I am fairly sure that such a mass immigration of similarly privileged whites to China or India, if indeed it were possible given the huge populations of those countries, would result in the same.

    One issue you have not identified is that of the fact that Americans have discovered that Science and Engineering and (even more-so) academic careers do not offer a path to financial stability as readily as other forms of career. Yes, fewer and fewer Americans are pursuing these advanced degrees and that is likely since it is far more rewarding to be a general contractor, government busybody, lawyer, physician or financial guru. In some respects I regret having not gone into medicine (I could have easily in the UK but not the US due to financial burden alone) rather than physics/chemistry/materials as I could have quadrupled my salary.

    Quite frankly, in my experience I see that Chinese postdocs succeed because they work very hard (often under Chinese immigrant supervisors who bleed them dry under the promise of an enriched life for which they work; in addition to this, academics will hire them just because they are willing to put in a lot of work to gain the green card) and Indians succeed because they learn how to play the game and game the system without moral consideration. In fact I am fairly reluctant to enter research collaborations with Indians as I have seen many times that they are very apt to run off with your ideas as their own – in fact, this happened to me just two days ago, and fortunately for me I protected the risk beforehand and was able to expose the problem. These are both generalizations, as I am sure that there are both Chinese and Indian individuals who are excellent … in fact I know some.

    On another note, I have an excellent IRANIAN postdoc.

  26. AvgDude says:

    When historians and social scientists start being honest again, they’ll note the obvious fact that advanced, technology-driven civilization comes from white and asian civilizations; not african; not middle eastern, and only partially from hispanic areas.

  27. Paleface 6 says:

    16 — Sureesh wrote at 3:10 AM on December 9:

    Actually, it’s the ‘children of immigrants’ who are DOMINATING the science and engineering fields and outachieving whitey- but it’s the Chinese and Indian immigrants who do that.

    It’s convenient how we become invisible both in the eyes of liberal whites and white racialists as both groups LOVE to point out how Blacks and Hispanics fail but refuse to recognize how we Indians SUCCEED in America.


    You call working for half the wages an American worker pulls down “success?” The reason you are (and always will be) hated here is because, yes, you are SO STUPID as to work for half pay.

    And you call yourself smart, when you’re screwing yourself…