More students are dropping out of college — here’s why

Getting into college is one thing, staying there is another.

Although the decline in college enrollment has leveled off this year, the number of students who started and then dropped out has increased, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. There are now more than 40 million unenrolled students.

At the same time, about 26 percent of current undergraduates have seriously considered leaving college or risk being expelled, according to a separate report from education lender Sallie Mae.

1 in 4 students risk not completing their university studies

Students who are the first in their families to attend college are much more likely to consider leaving at some point, as are minority and low-income students, who may also juggle their commitments professionals, according to the report.

“We need more support for early college planning, especially for first-generation students or those from underserved communities,” said Rick Castellano, a spokesman for Sallie Mae. “Often the conversation is about access,” he added, but “there are a ton of things we can do to better address college completion.”

Of the students considering putting their studies on hold, most said it was due to financial concerns. Others cite a loss of motivation or a life change followed by mental health problems, Sallie Mae found.

Money is a major concern

About half of students at risk of dropping out said it was difficult for them to meet tuition costs as well as other related expenses, such as textbooks, housing and food, according to Sallie Mae.

However, “it is more difficult to come back after taking one or more gap years,” Castellano also noted.

“The best thing you can do is stay the course and look for other types of funding, like scholarships,” he said.

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“The worst thing you can do is get loans and drop out because then you’ll have debt and not the benefit of the degree,” said Nancy Goodman, founder of College Money Matters, an organization non-profit whose objective is to help high school students and their families earn money. informed decisions about paying for college.

Already, among borrowers who begin college but never complete it, the default rate is nearly three times that of borrowers with a degree, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“My advice is to try to find ways to cope and borrow less money,” Goodman said.

Whether that’s finding a part-time job, taking extra classes to graduate early, or living with a friend to save on housing costs, she suggested.

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