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The Cost Of College Dropouts: A State-By-State Breakdown

First Posted: 10/11/10 02:45 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:00 PM ET

According to a new study by the American Institute for Research, students who drop out of college after their first year cost the nation more than $9 billion in state and federal money between 2003 and 2008. (See a state-by-state breakdown of costs below.)

"Finishing the First Lap: The Cost of First-Year Student Attrition in America's Four-Year Colleges and Universities" turned to the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System to collect drop-out data from 1,521 four-year institutions (including 73 for-profit, 902 not-for-profit and 528 public.) Using information from IPEDS, AIR was able to compose a report that details how much funding, broken down into total state expenditure, state appropriations, state student grants and federal student grants, is spent on students who discontinue their studies after only one year.

Inside Higher Ed reports that although AIR Vice President Mark D. Schneider cites the project's goal as highlighting the importance of "increas[ing] the number of students who return to complete their college degree," some are skeptical of the findings. The Associated Press writes that some fear that the report's readers will conclude not that a greater effort should be made to retain students, but that too many young Americans are attempting a college education.

For more information, check out Collegemeasures.org, which AIR launched with the Matrix Knowledge Group to showcase their full findings.

Below, check out how much the top-spending 13 states spent on students who dropped out of college after their freshman year.

What do you think of this report's findings? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

California -- $490,800,000
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Federal aid spent on first-year-only students -- $81,200,000
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Filed by Danielle Wiener-Bronner  |