High cost of first-year community college dropouts

Nanette Asimov:

Like making a bad bet in Vegas, taxpayers gamble hundreds of millions of dollars a year on community college students who quit as freshmen – many in California.
A new study shows that from 2004 to 2009, Americans spent nearly $4 billion on full-time students who dropped out after one year and didn’t transfer.
California’s first-year dropouts benefited from $480 million in tax-funded grants and allocations in that time – more than any other state – says the study, “The Hidden Costs of Community Colleges,” from the nonpartisan American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C.
“I’m not in favor of pumping more money into the existing system where so many students don’t succeed,” said Mark Schneider, author of the report and vice president of the research group.
The 17-page report doesn’t advocate cutting off dollars to schools. Instead, it urges colleges to do a better job of retaining students: making it easier for them to get the classes they need, rewarding colleges for reducing dropouts or penalizing them for failing to do so. It also encourages officials to gather better information about what’s actually happening on their campuses.