Main Reason for Dropping Out of College? Money

Friday, December 11, 2009
(graphic: West Virginia U.)

If President Barack Obama wants to increase the number of college graduates in order to make the United States more competitive internationally, he will have to find ways to make financial assistance more available. A new study from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shows the biggest reason why students drop out of college is not because they’re lazy or uninterested in higher learning—it’s because they need money for survival. Increasingly, students are working while trying to attend two- or four-year colleges, and for many they simply can’t do both and finish their degrees.

The Gates Foundation discovered that nearly 60% of all college dropouts received no help from their parents, while more than 60% who finished college did get assistance from their families. Similarly, about 70% of dropouts had no scholarship or loan support, while 60% of graduates did.
Nearly 3 million students enroll in some form of higher education each year, but only 20% of those in community colleges finish their degrees in three years or less, and only about 40% of university students complete their studies within six years.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
College Dropouts Cite Low Money and High Stress (by Tamar Lewin, New York Times)
Introduction: With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) (pdf)


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