A new report on higher education in the United States finds that “too many public colleges are dropout factories.”
At 85 percent of four-year public colleges and universities, less than two-thirds of students graduate, according to the report from the think tank Third Way.
These “public colleges and universities would be considered dropout factories if they were held to the same standards as our nation’s high schools,” the report reads.
Just 80 schools, or 15 percent of four-year public colleges, graduate more than two-thirds of their first-time, full-time students within six years, the think tank found.
Additionally, only about 48 percent of full-time students entering the typical public college graduate within six years of enrollment.
Here are other key findings from the report:
- Poor Wage Outcomes for Loan-Holding Students: At the average four-year public college, nearly 4 in 10 loan-holding students are unable to earn more than than the expected earnings of a high school graduate six years after enrollment.
- Not all Public Schools are Created Equal in Creating Mobility for Low and Moderate Income Students: There is a 35.5 point difference in measures of mobility between the average completion rate at schools in the top quartile (66.5%) and the average completion rate at bottom-quartile schools (31.0%).
- Pell Students Tend to Be Concentrated at the Schools with the Worst Outcomes: On average, the schools that rank in the top quartile of positive mobility take in 29.3% Pell, while bottom-quartile schools take in 48.6% Pell.
- Price has Little Relationship to Outcomes: The average top-quartile school (those with good outcomes like completion, earnings, and repayment rates) charges a net price of $10,176, while the average bottom-quartile school (those with the worst outcomes) charges nearly $600 more ($10,762).
“While rising costs continue to drive the conversation around higher education in our country, this report and our previous analysis of four-year private, non-profit colleges raise much more fundamental questions beyond sticker price,” the report authors wrote. “With outcomes like these, it is clear that simply addressing the rising cost of college isn’t sufficient to ensure students are being equipped with the degrees and skills they need to succeed.”