As college costs rise, the economy struggles, and unemployment remains a problem, many students have to face a hard reality. The brutal truth is that the price tag of college is more than the yearly salaries of many professions. Even with government financial aid, the debt load is simply too high for many students to afford to stay in school. This is contributing to a troubling dropout rate on many campuses across the country.
Because of the large number of parents who have lost jobs during the recession, many students are being forced to pay for their own college educations. In addition, many parents are now refusing to pay for their children’s college costs because they feel the students are adults and should handle it on their own. Unfortunately, the federal government doesn’t always allow for students who are financially independent and base aid awards on the parents’ incomes. This is leaving too many students in a financial disaster zone.
Private colleges offer significantly higher financial aid awards to students, but they are also much costlier to attend. According to the College Board, the average price tag of a year at a private college or university is nearly four times that of a public in-state school. This does not even factor in room and board prices, which can be over $1500 monthly at certain schools.
How This Affects Dropout Rates
Students who are responsible for their own educational expenses are at a very high risk of dropping out because of financial difficulties. According to research by Public Agenda, students who receive no help from their families worry about not graduating on time because of changing majors, scheduling issues, and more. They are struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford extra years. Since around 2 in every 5 college students take six years to earn a bachelor’s degree, this is a very real issue. As such, students who are helped financially by family have a 63% graduation rate, but those who are financially independent have only a 42% graduation rate.
Students who are forced to pay for their own education can choose alternatives to dropping out, however. Many of these students find that online schools provide a much cheaper option to receive the same quality of education. By studying online, students can eliminate costs for transportation and room and board. In addition, there are many other student fees involved on campuses that are not required in online education. If you are a struggling student who is ready to throw in the towel, look into online degree programs instead. This will allow you to earn your degree at a lower price while still working and taking care of your responsibilities.