Understanding the Total Cost of the Dropout Crisis is Critical to Solving it.

The statistics and figures are shocking. A dropout not only represents a tragic loss of human potential and opportunity cost for all our futures—but the staggering social costs, including welfare, health, incarceration, unemployment, ALL are directly related or significantly impacted by the factor of high school completion. Following are only a few of the costs of our not succeeding at eliminating America’s dropout crisis:

Cost of Loss Human Potential

How do we quantify the loss of the potential of even one human being. The loss of their gifts and talents to solve problems in our society, and contribute to the benefit of us all. Who even knows what we are losing when over 1 million students per year drop out of our schools, shutting the door on their education and their future.

Economic Costs

If the nation’s secondary schools improved sufficiently to graduate all of their students, rather than the 72 percent of students who currently graduate annually, the payoff would be significant. For instance, if the students who dropped out of the Class of 2011 had graduated, the nation’s economy would likely benefit from nearly $154 billion in additional income over the course of their lifetimes."

- Alliance for Excellent Education, November, 2011

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for high school dropouts in August 2011—four years after the start of the recession—was 14.3 percent, compared to 9.6 percent for high school graduates, 8.2 percent for individuals with some college credits or an associate’s degree, and 4.3 percent for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher."

- Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Compared to a high school dropout, a single high school graduate yields a public benefit of over $200,000 more in lower government spending and higher tax revenues. If the number of dropouts were cut in half, the government would likely see a total of $45 billion in savings and additional revenue.” H. Levin, et al., “The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for All of America’s Children"

- (New York, NY: Center for Cost-Benefit Studies of Education Teachers College, Columbia University, 2007)

Cutting the dropout rate of a single high school class in half would likely support as many as 54,000 new jobs and would likely increase the gross domestic product by as much as $9.6 billion."

- Alliance for Excellent Education, “Education and the Economy: Boosting the Nation’s Economy by Improving High School Graduation Rates” (Washington, DC: Author, 2011)

Social Costs

If the male graduation rate were increased by only 5 percent, the nation would see an annual savings of $4.9 billion in crime-related costs"

- Alliance for Excellent Education, “Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings” (Washington, DC: Author, 2006)

“…high school graduates live longer, are less likely to be teen parents, and are more likely to raise healthier, better-educated children. In fact, children of parents who graduate from high school are far more likely to graduate from high school, compared to children of parents without high school degrees. High school graduates are also less likely to commit crimes, rely on government health care, or use other public services such as food stamps or housing assistance. Additionally, high school graduates engage in civic activity, including voting and volunteering in their communities, and at higher levels."

- Alliance for Excellent Education, November, 2011