Virginia has spent millions on college drop outs.  According to the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Richmond, Va. —

Virginia taxpayers spent $177.7 million over five years on 35,461 college students who dropped out after their first year, according to a national study on the cost of attrition.

Federal grants to those students totaled an additional $33.7 million, the American Institutes for Research says in a report being released today that looked at freshmen who didn’t return to four-year schools during the 2003 to 2008 academic years.

Nationally, those costs exceed $9 billion, said the report, which is intended to focus attention on institutional accountability at a time when the state and federal governments are seeking to increase the numbers of students who earn degrees.

“If you don’t finish the first lap, you can’t cross the finish line,” said Mark Schneider, the American Institutes for Research vice president and a former U.S. commissioner of education statistics.

Why are we spending this kind of money?  When do we decide WHO CARES?  If we are going to cut back on spending, here would be a great place to start. 

Apparently Gov. McDonnell and I don’t agree on something else:

Tomorrow, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s commission on higher-education reform will meet to discuss proposals for streamlining operations while producing 100,000 additional associate and bachelor’s degrees over the next 15 years.


Cox said the freshman dropout rate is a problem that also must be addressed at the K-12 level because too many students need remedial help when they reach college.

Higher-education and K-12 initiatives will be the focus of the Governor’s Education Summit to be held Oct. 27 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as the keynote speaker.

President Barack Obama has called for the United States to regain by 2020 its status as having the world’s highest proportion of college graduates.

I am afraid I don’t buy the need for remedial help in 4 year colleges.  Perhaps a better candidate should have been selected.  Perhaps those students need to go to the community college where remedial classes are built into the program.  Many students who are away from home for the first time simply get too big for their britches, spend too much time partying and drinking.  They quickly get in over their heads.  I am all for weeding out those who shouldn’t be there.  Diplomas should be earned. 

A more important study should be why the high school graduation rate is so low.  Why are kids dropping out of high school, especially when state law says they are to go until age 18.  Young people lacking the very basic skills is far more frightening than people who perhaps shouldn’t have been in a particular school in the first place.  This kind of spending can go. 

8 Thoughts to “Virginia spends millions on college dropouts, study finds”

  1. Why do we care why people are dropping out of college?

    What has a more serious affect? no college diploma or no high school diploma?

  2. marinm

    Pushing more people into schools and getting diploma’s is a soundbite. I also agree that government shouldn’t be in the position to fund tuition’s and really shouldn’t be in the business of running colleges outside of the K-12 level.

    Those that want to succeed will find a way. Those that don’t can attend any number of trade schools or get on the job training in whatever vocation may fit their skillsets.

    The idea that everyone needs a college degree just doesn’t make sense to me – at all. We need some people to not attend so that we can continue to have people to flip my hamburgers and mow my grass.

  3. Bubberella

    There’s not enough information to form an opinion. Are the costs attributable to financial aid (grants and loans) to students who drop out in the first year? If so, then I’m not terribly troubled by that — otherwise do you deny assistance to all first-years students or just those with lower SAT, GPA, and credit ratings?

  4. I agree. More information is needed.

    My suggestion would be for students to go to schools that cost less and where free tutoring and remedial help is offered. The community college system is the best deal in town. It is relatively inexpensive and there is remediation. Not everyone needs to go to some place that is a big name school. Students can pay their dues and save their money and transfer after 2 years.

    I have done post graduate coursework at NOVA and the instruction was excellent…far better than at any 4 year I had attended.

  5. Wolverine

    Moon, I think many of these dropouts may be doing in a sense what you recommend. Mrs. W is always bringing me stories of her past students who just couldn’t handle either the academic or social pressure at colleges away from home. They dropped out, came home, enrolled in community college, and managed to get their feet back on the ground — sufficently to either go back to the four-year institution to complete degree work or take advantage of local opportunities such as Strayer, GMU, and the like. But I think you are probably right. We need to work at reversing the order of things, to wit, divining the best path for our kids BEFORE they start out on the educational journey.

  6. Bubberella

    I started at community college and transfered to Tech. Community College taught me how to study — something I hadn’t needed to do in high school. If I had gone to Tech straight from high school, I would likely have been one of those first year students.

    I worked for a couple of years before college — it was a great motivator.

    1. Bub, I sure wish I had done that, retrospectively. I found the instruction at NOVA, years later, far superior to the instruction at most universities where I had taken classes. For starters, the classes were 25 or less. right there, you cease being a number. I always found at NOVA, someone gave a damn if you learned. I can’t say that for all at UMW, UVA, Tech, URich, GM, or any other place I took a class or 2.

  7. Bubberella

    I had excellent instructors at Community College.

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