About 20 percent of full-time community college students fail to continue beyond their first year, after federal, state and local governments have already spent $1 billion on their higher education, according to a new study by Mark Schneider, vice president at the American Institutes of Research and a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. The study looked at first-time, full-time community college students who were seeking credentials. Government spending on those students who did not return for a second year has increased, hitting $1 billion in 2008-9, an increase of 35 percent over five years. The $4 billion spent during that period included $3 billion in education-related state and local appropriations, $240 million in state grants and $660 million in federal grants.
"Simply saying that the nation needs more community college graduates and continuing to pump more money and more students into the existing system is not the answer," concluded Schneider, who recently wrote a critical study on the costs and benefits of a bachelor's degree. The report suggested several possible solutions for retaining community college students, including prior-learning assessment, "hybrid" learning platforms, better approaches to remedial education, and performance-based funding.