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What stops students from finishing college? Surprise—it’s high cost and high stress

Even for students from high-income families, higher education is often seen as prohibitively expensive, according to a new national survey.

What stops students from finishing college? Surprise—it’s high cost and high stress
[Source Images: Getty]

Most people see the value of college, but the high cost of tuition makes college inaccessible for many, including people with household incomes greater than $240,000, according to new study by Gallup and Lumina. The study surveyed 11,000 people about the existing barriers for college enrollment as well as what helped students stay in school. Some key findings include:

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  • Over half of adults who don’t have a degree and aren’t enrolled in college say the main reason is cost. This remained true across different racial groups and different income levels: 53% of unenrolled adults from households earning $24,000 or less cited cost as a main reason, and 45% from households earning $240,000 or more a year. Only 19% said they did not consider college important.
  • Thirty-six percent of college students and 39% of associate degree students said it was difficult to remain enrolled heading into the fall of 2021. Students of color were the most likely to report having difficulty remaining enrolled: only 32% of white students said they had difficulty remaining enrolled compared to 48% of Native American students, 42% of Hispanic students, 38% of Asian students, and 35% of Black students.
  • 76% of bachelor’s degree students who have considered dropping out during the last six months cite emotional stress as their top reason. The second reason was the pandemic, cited by 34%, followed by cost, cited by 31%.
  • For students who were able to stay in school, about half said financial aid and their confidence in the value of the degree were key factors for continuing with their education.
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