by Matt Averna, GenFKD
Founded upon its “Freshman Year for Free” slogan, the non-profit Modern States is helping students shed the socio-economic disadvantages that often follow them from K-12 to higher ed.
While the transition from high school to college may give the impression of a clean slate, many students are in for a rude awakening. Inadequacies within our K-12 system mean that incoming students are starting from a far-from-level playing field.
As GenFKD has previously documented, waves of unprepared students heading to higher ed has resulted in a truly stunning proliferation of remedial course requirements that come at a huge cost to students. According to an Education Reform Now report, more than five hundred thousand families ponied up $1.5 billion in 2011 alone for remedial coursework that should have been sufficiently covered at the K-12 level.
At an average cost of $1,500 per course, remedial courses are effectively charging students and their families to cover the gaps between high-school outcomes and college requirements. Moreover, remedial courses extend the student’s time to graduation – therefore driving up both the hard price tag and the opportunity cost of lost earnings – and shrink retention rates.
The unequal impact of rising costs
The extension of remedial courses to bridge K-12 shortcomings affects students from all socio-economic levels, across public, private and community colleges. Still, it is hard to argue with the notion that college’s ever-increasing price tag has disproportionate consequences upon financially vulnerable students, whose resources and financing options are drastically different compared to more affluent peers.
On a general level, a recent report in Race and Social Problems showed that young adults of color hold an average of 68.2 percent more student debt than their white peers. The problem comes into sharper focus when examining data from the Demos Institute, which showed that student borrowers of color are dropping out at a higher rate than white borrowers, and that low-income borrowers of any race are dropping out at higher rates than higher-income borrowers.
We have yet to even take into account the fact that graduating high-school students can, and should, be able to actually reduce the length and cost of their collegiate careers through transferrable credits, like AP courses.