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U.S. Loses $5.6 Billion Providing College Remediation, According to New Alliance Brief

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May 05, 2011 02:02 pm

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Remedial education—courses designed for postsecondary students on basic skills that they did not master in high school—cost the United States an estimated $5.6 billion, according to a new brief by the Alliance for Excellent Education. This figure represents the cost associated with students enrolled in two- or four-year institutions during the 2007–08 school year who had taken one or more remedial courses while in college. It includes $3.6 billion in direct remedial education costs and an additional $2 billion in lost lifetime wages because students enrolled in remedial courses are more likely to drop out of college, which in turn, significantly reduces their earning potential.

“Remediation is paying for the same education twice,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “It is a wasteful use of public and private dollars and an unrealistic solution to closing the preparation gap between high school and college. Doing it right the first time by delivering a high-quality high school education improves the chances of long-term success for students and for communities.

“Saving Now and Saving Later: How High School Reform Can Reduce the Nation’s Wasted Remediation Dollars” finds that about one out of every three students entering postsecondary education will have to take at least one remedial course. In 2008, reports show that 44 percent of students under the age of twenty-five had been enrolled in one or more remedial courses at public two-year institutions and 27 percent at public four-year institutions. The brief points out that while remediation is a problem for all students, students of color are disproportionally affected.

The brief also provides state-by-state data on the cost of remediation. To access the full report visit here.

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