The High Cost of High School Dropouts

dropouts cost 1.8 billion/year in lost tax revenuesWe’ve all heard about how important education is, how much more money high-school grads make compared to dropouts, how much more than that people with bachelor’s degrees make, and so on up the educational ladder.  But it wasn’t until just last month that the federal government put two and two together and figured out that all that extra earning power could be taxed. The bottom line? High school dropouts cost us about $1.8 billion in lost tax revenues every year.

The report discussed high-school graduation rates and tax revenues and made projections about what would happen if graduation rates increased. Here are just two examples from the report, which was written in part by Civic Enterprises, a public policy group.

  • Colorado graduated 74 percent of high school students in 2011 and cut $4.7 million from its higher education budgets between fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Had the graduation rate been 90 percent, state and local governments would have $4.1 million extra to hire teachers, and eliminate cuts to social services.
  • New Jersey’s high school graduation rate was higher—83 percent in 2011. But the state recently cut $19.2 million from its public assistance budget that includes disaster relief and mental health services. With a 90 percent graduation rate, the state would have brought in $19 million in additional tax revenues.

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