1 Dropout Costs Taxpayers $221K, Study Shows

Illinois' 2006-2007 Dropout Rate Was 3.5 Percent

Researchers say taxpayers lose $221,000 over the course of a lifetime for each Illinois student who drops out of school.

The study says that dropouts pay lower taxes compared to high school grads, collect more welfare, food stamps and other government support, and go to prison at higher rates.

Joe McLaughlin, a researcher at the Center for Labor Market Studies at Boston's Northeastern University, co-authored a study on dropout costs for Illinois education leaders.

McLaughlin said taxpayers bear a huge fiscal burden for the state's dropout problem.

The analysis was released Wednesday in support of a plan to triple the number of dropouts re-enrolled annually in Illinois.

In 2006-2007, Illinois' high school dropout rate was 3.5 percent, with than 25,000 students dropping out that year. A task force studying the issue estimated 14 percent of high-school age students, more than 100,000, were out of school in 2006.

Only 35 percent of Illinois teenage dropouts were able to find jobs in 2005, and when they did, their mean annual earnings were $21,400, nearly 30 percent below the mean salary of male high school grads. Female dropouts earned even less.

In contrast, 57 percent of teenage high school grads were employed.

In 2005, the rate of home ownership was 49 percent among Illinois households headed by someone lacking a high school diploma. The rate was 64 percent for high school grads and 75 percent for college grads.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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