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College Dropout Rates

Report Highlights

  • 85% of students graduate successfully from high school.
  • Only 41% of college students graduate from four-year institutions.
  • College dropout rates average at 40% each academic year for undergraduate students.
  • College dropout rates are 20% higher for male students in comparison to female students.
  • 44% of students who take part in a four-year college course manage to graduate within the first six years.
  • Public universities have a higher than average dropout rate of 50%.
  • The percentage of students who receive federal grants and manage to graduate is 10% to 20% lower in public universities than in private institutions.
  • Three (3) in every ten (10) students drop out after or within the first year in college.
  • 40% of the college dropouts have parents who did not complete their higher education.

college dropout rates

College Dropout Statistics for Foster kids

  • Foster kids have the smallest odds of making it through and graduating from college – only 8 to 10% of them do.
  • When foster kids are given financial support, their graduation rate increases sharply to 44%.

College Dropout Statistics Revolving Around Finances

  • A college dropout earns 35% less than a college graduate per annum.
  • A valued $3.8 billion is lost each year as a result of college dropouts.
  • 55% of college students struggle to find financial support for their studies. Consequently, 51% of college dropouts drop out because of the lack of money.
  • 79% of the students delay their graduations due to financial difficulties.

College Retention Rates Statistics

Retention rates determine the proportion of students who come back to the same college in the next academic year.

  • The average retention rate in American higher education institutions is 71%.
  • Of the 57% of students who do not complete four-year colleges within six years, 33% drop out altogether.

At four year institutions, first time, full-time degree students had the following statistics in the 2017/ 2018 academic year:

  • The general retention rate was 81%. Colleges and universities with open admissions had a retention rate of 62%. The institutions with an acceptance rate of less than 25% recorded a 97% retention rate.
  • The institutions with the lowest acceptance rates (less than 25%) recorded the highest retention rates.
  • In the least selective public institutions – with an acceptance rate of higher than 25%, there was a 63% retention rate.
  • Public institutions that did not have an open admissions policy recorded a 97% retention rate.
  • A 97% retention rate was also seen at private non-profit institutions without an open admissions policy.
  • Private non-profit institutions with an open admissions policy recorded a 65% retention rate.
  • Overall, private for-profit institutions had a 60% retention rate, with those with open admissions having a 5% lower retention rate.

At two year institutions, first time, full-time degree students had the following statistics in the 2017/ 2018 academic year:

  • The overall retention rate for all the two-year institutions was 62%.
  • The public institutions recorded an average 62% retention rate.
  • For the private institutions, the for-profits averaged at a 66% retention rate while the non-profits had a 72% rate.

Reasons for College Dropouts

  • 38% of the students drop out of college due to financial shortcomings for their college education.
  • 13% of the students find it hard to fit into the social life at college correctly.
  • The lack of adequate support from the family contributes to 9% of college dropouts.
  • 28% of the students drop out of college due to academic disqualification – failure to meet the set academic requirements.
  • Mental, emotional, or psychological issues cause 3% of college students to drop out.
  • Students who live far away from their college premises eventually drop out because of the distance. This is responsible for 4% of the college dropouts.
  • 5% of the students who drop out cite health problems as the main reason for dropping out of college.
  • 89% of students from the first generation in low earning families tend to drop out of college.

Post-College Economic Comparison between College Dropouts and Graduates

  • College dropouts earn an average of $21,000 less than the students who complete college and earn a degree.
  • College graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $35 every hour.
  • College graduates with an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree, earn an average of $45 per hour.
  • College dropouts are twice as likely to live in poverty as compared to those who completed college and hold a degree.
  • In 2017, College dropouts had an unemployment rate of 4%. This is higher than the average unemployment (3.6%) and higher than the rate of unemployment for graduates with bachelor’s degrees (2.5%).
  • The median annual salary for college dropouts is $36,633 compared to $53,882 for a bachelor’s degree holder.
  • For males, a college graduate earns an approximate $900,000 more in the median lifetime income than a male high school graduate.
  • For females, a college graduate earns an approximate $630,000 more in the median lifetime income as compared to a female high school graduate.
  • A family led by a college degree holder saves at a rate of 14% higher than a family headed by a college dropout.

Student Loans and College Dropouts

With financial instability being a reason for 38% of the college dropouts, the following statistics indicate the statistics around loans for college students:

  • In the 2020/ 2021 academic year, the first-year students’ limits stand at $5,500; the sophomores have a limit of $6,500, the juniors a limit of $7,500.
  • In general, the total amount undergraduates can borrow is $57,500, while graduate students can borrow up to $20,500.
  • The average college student leaves campus with a student loan debt of about $14,000.
  • 60% of private student loan applicants apply without a co-signer, and only 5% of these students have their loans approved.
  • 47% of the students default on their loans, while 53% of them cannot make the loan repayments as per the terms.

College Completion Rates by Race

In 2017, the following were the six-year completion rate statistics for students who joined four-year courses:

  • 63% of the students completed their degrees (the total completion rate).
  • 50% of the students completed college at the same institution.
  • 10% of the students completed their college degrees at different institutions.
  • 24% of the students were no longer enrolled in any other institution.

For Asian students;

  • 72% of the students completed their degrees.
  • 61% of the students completed college at the same institution.
  • 8% of the students completed their college degrees at different institutions.
  • 14% of the students were no longer enrolled in any other institution.

For Black students;

  • 46% of the students completed their degrees.
  • 35% of the students completed college at the same institution.
  • 7% of the students completed their college degrees at different institutions.
  • 35% of the students were no longer enrolled in any other institution.

For Hispanic students;

  • 55% of the students completed their degrees.
  • 44% of the students completed college at the same institution.
  • 8% of the students completed their college degrees at different institutions.
  • 27% of the students were no longer enrolled in any other institution.

For White students;

  • 67% of the students completed their degrees.
  • 52% of the students completed college at the same institution.
  • 11% of the students completed their college degrees at different institutions.
  • 21% of the students were no longer enrolled in any other institution.

For students with more than one race;

  • 61% of the students completed their degrees.
  • 49% of the students completed college at the same institution.
  • 9% of the students completed their college degrees at different institutions.
  • 24% of the students were no longer enrolled in any other institution.

College Dropouts Rates for Different Races

In two year colleges;

  • 10% of Asian students drop out – this is the lowest figure.
  • In comparison, 31% of black students, 18% of white students, 21% of Hispanic students, and 36% of Native American students drop out.

For full-time four-year college students;

  • 35% of Asian students drop out – this represents the lowest percentage.
  • In comparison, 52% of black students, 42% of white students, 40% of Hispanic students, and 53% of Native American students drop out.

College Dropout Rates for Different Ages

Students who enroll for college under 20 years have a between 13%  to 22% chance higher of graduating than those who joined college beyond 20.

In two-year college institutions:

  • 5% of students at 19 years or younger drop out.
  • For students between the age of 20 and 23, 51% drop out.
  • The percentage of dropouts is 52% of the students between age 24 and 29 in colleges.
  • 52% of students who are older than 30 years end up as dropouts.

For students attending four-year college institutions:

  • 15% of the student aged 19 or younger drop out.
  • The dropouts are just over a half (51%) of the students in the age bracket of 20 to 23 years.
  • 52% of the students between 24 and 29 years drop out.
  • 54% of students who are older than 30 years end up as dropouts.

Sources

  1. Trends in College Pricing 2019
  2. Wages for workers with a high school degree or less rose the fastest over the last year.
  3. Types of Student Loans
  4. Understand how interest is calculated and what fees are associated with your federal student loan.
  5. Federal Government Publishes More Complete Graduation Rate Data
  6. The High Cost of Low Graduation Rates
  7. Eye-Opening College Dropout Rates & Statistics – 2021
  8. S. College Dropout Rate and Dropout Statistics
  9. National Center for Education Statistics, Table 326.10
  10. National Center for Education Statistics, Table 326.25
  11. National Center for Education Statistics, Table 326.30
  12. Characteristics of Postsecondary Students

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