Nearly half of the students at four-year private non-profit colleges aren’t graduating, according to a study released this week by a Washington, D.C. public policy think tank.
Thirdway analyzed state by state data from the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, and concluded that these colleges have “dropout rates that rival the worst of the nation’s high schools,” the report said.
“At 761 of these 1,027 schools — or 74 percent — less than two-thirds of all full-time students earn a degree within six years of enrolling as a freshman.
If they were high school’s instead of colleges, the report said, these schools would be labeled “dropout factories.”
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The report says that in Missouri, 82 percent of the state’s private, non-profit universities, would fit the label for dropout factory.
It makes specific mention of Kansas City’s Avila University which has a 45 percent 6-year college completion rate, the lowest in the state, according to the report. Rockhurst University has a 68 percent completion rate, on the higher end when compared to other schools in this state, the report said.
The average institution completion rate in Kansas is 42 percent, according to the report.
What the report does not consider is that rather than dropping out, a student may have left a university to attend another school. Authors of the study said they were aware that the 2013 federal data used did not account for student transfers but it was the only data available.
The study also looked at how many low-income or Pell Grant eligible students are accepted at these private schools; how well students are paid once they graduate and how soon after graduation many graduates end up falling behind on paying off student loan debt.
Kansas four-year private non-profits schools do slightly better than the national average when it comes to admitting Pell Grant eligible students. Kansas schools admit 1.23 percent more pell students than the 38.35 percent national average.
Washington University in St. Louis was named as being the worst Missouri at admitting Pell Grant eligible students.
“This is not a new development,” said Julie Flory, Washington University spokeswoman. She said the university has been aware of the problem for several years and is working to make changes. “In fact our percentages have begun to climb,” Flory said.
Thirdway’s latest report only reviewed data for private four-year institutions, but the moderate think tank expects to release a second report related to public four-year colleges and universities later this summer.