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ERIC Number: ED512253
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 23
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Finishing the First Lap: The Cost of First Year Student Attrition in America's Four Year Colleges and Universities
Schneider, Mark
American Institutes for Research
The Obama administration is calling for the United States to regain its status as the nation with the highest concentration of college-educated adults in the world. In response to this challenge, the president, governors, foundations, individual campuses, and many others are pursuing a "college completion agenda" that aims to get more students across the finish line. However, far too many are stumbling soon after they sprint off the mark. This report focuses on the high costs associated with the large number of students who do not return for a second year at the college where they first enroll. Using data from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), it shows that during the five years between 2003 and 2008: (1) States appropriated almost $6.2 billion to colleges and universities to help pay for the education of students who did not return for a second year; and (2) States gave over $1.4 billion and the Federal government over $1.5 billion in grants to students who did not return for a second year. The nation will have a difficult time reaching the administration's policy goals unless we find ways to increase the number of students who return to complete their college degrees. In the meantime, we continue to spend far too much money on students who don't even finish the first lap, let alone fail to cross the finish line. A technical appendix is included. (Contains 54 tables and 2 figures.)
American Institutes for Research. 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. Tel: 202-403-5000; Fax: 202-403-5001; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Institutes for Research