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According to the latest data, 1.4 million more Americans have dropped out of college — though some may re-enroll if High Court confirms President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan and their education debt is forgiven, a new report shows.
Overall, the decline in college enrollment has begun to level off, but the number of students entering and then leaving college increased by 3.6% in the 2020-21 academic year, according to National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. More than 40 million students are currently unenrolled.
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Another 41% of current college students said they had considered “dropping out” or pausing their education in the past six months, a new study from the Lumina Foundation and Gallup found.
“The number of currently enrolled students who are considering dropping out continues to increase — that’s very concerning,” said Courtney Brown, Lumina’s vice president of impact and planning.
Financial barriers lead many to quit
Between the high cost of a college education and a strong job market, students are questioning whether college is still worth it, noted Ross Gittell, an economist and president of Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
“There are concerns about making that investment up front when returns are uncertain,” he said.
Among students who have recently put their education on hold, the majority said it was due to financial barriers, including program costs, inflation and the need to work, according to the Lumina and Gallup report.
“It’s not just about tuition,” Brown said. “The reality is that today’s students are working, they may have children or parents to support – there’s an opportunity cost.”
Wrestling for those with student debt, no title
at least High Courtawaiting a decision on Biden student loan forgiveness plan will shed more light on finance college burden.
Borrowers are increasingly struggling under the weight of mounting student debt balances. Today, borrowers owe a combined $1.7 trillion.
For those who start college but never finish, managing such a large amount of debt is especially difficult. “That becomes problematic when a student doesn’t graduate or graduate on time,” Gittell said.
Forgiveness could trigger re-login
On the other hand, loan forgiveness would reduce that burden, making students more likely to re-enroll, Brown said.
“Loan forgiveness could be a key strategy to bring students who have some college but no degree back to complete their coursework,” she said.
Nearly half, or 47%, of students who dropped out of postsecondary education before completion said they would be very likely to re-enroll if some or all of their student loans were forgiven, according to the Lumina and Gallup report.
Meanwhile, college just gets more expensive. Tuition and fees plus room and board, books and other expenses for a four-year private college average $57,570 in the 2022-23 academic year; at public four-year colleges, it was more than $27,940, according to the data College Boardwhich follows trends in university pricing and student aid.
The next year, some colleges said yes high school fees even moreI quote inflation and other pressures.
Yet many students and prospective students believe that earning a degree is worth it and continue to borrow to make college possible.