Nearly $4 billion was spent by federal, state, and local governments over five years on full-time community college students who dropped out after their first year without completing their certificate or degree programs, according to the new report, “The Hidden Costs of Community Colleges”, from AIR and College Measures.
Using U.S. Department of Education data, we have analyzed full-time students who didn’t return for a second year, while adjusting figures to account for students who transferred to four-year institutions. The cost of dropouts would be higher if part-time students and other government funding, such as direct federal support and capital expenditures, were included in the analysis.
With states and localities spending far more than the federal government on community colleges, and nearly every state facing serious budget shortfalls, the cost of community college dropouts to state taxpayers is especially troubling.
Below, you can use our interactive web tool to see how much has been spent in taxpayer dollars to educate these non-returning community college students, both at the state and institution level. In addition to the community colleges reviewed in the report, private for-profit and private not-for-profit institutions are shown below. To access the full report, please click here.