US community college: half of students could quit over money

More than a quarter of students think their college provides inadequate information about financial assistance, study also shows

February 21, 2017
empty wallet
Source: istock

Almost half of community college students in the US could drop out because of a lack of finances, according to new research.

A survey of nearly 100,000 community college students from 177 institutions across the country found that 47 per cent might have to withdraw because of financial concerns. Meanwhile, more than a quarter (27 per cent) said that the information they received from their college about financial assistance was inadequate.

But almost a third (30 per cent) of students who received financial aid said that they have stayed enrolled in college in order to continue receiving this support.

Nearly four in ten of the students said that they received Pell Grants, a subsidy from the US federal government for low-income students; of those, 40 per cent also had to rely on student loans.

The report, Making Ends Meet: The Role of Community Colleges in Student Financial Health, was produced by the Center for Community College Student Engagement. It found that students who did not receive Pell Grants were more likely to aspire to a bachelor’s degree than those who did receive the funding.

Just over a third (35 per cent) of students who received the grant said that their number one goal was to transfer to a four-year college or university, compared with 41 per cent of those who did not receive the money.

The majority of Pell Grant students (53 per cent) aspired to complete an associate degree instead, compared with less than half (42 per cent) of those who did not receive the funding.

In addition, although more than three-quarters (83 per cent) of those surveyed said that they had the skills and knowledge to manage their own finances well, more than half (54 per cent) struggled to keep up with bills.

Among students who reported running out of money in the past 12 months, 77 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that they had the skills to manage their finances.

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