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California Leads Nation In College Dropout Funding

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Aired 10/12/10

A new report shows that about 30 percent of the country’s freshmen at four-year colleges do not return for a second year. California spent about $500 million on these students between 2003 and 2008.

A new report shows that about 30 percent of the country’s freshmen at four-year colleges do not return for a second year. California spent about $500 million on these students between 2003 and 2008.

According to the American Institutes of Research, California spent more than any other state on college freshmen who did not return for their sophomore year.

At San Diego State University this fall, just over 82 percent of last year’s freshman were back for a second year. The year before it was 78 percent.

The increase comes in part from initiatives like the early summer start program for less academically prepared students, according to Ethan Singer, SDSU's associate vice president for academic affairs.

Signer said the program "is designed to get students on the campus early. The at risk students get a jump start on their remediation requirements so they’re up and running at the start of the fall semester.”

Overall, California’s four-year public universities outperform the national average and retain about 84 percent of their first-time students. That’s higher than the national rate of about 70 percent. The California State University system is hoping to boost its numbers.

“The trustees have mandated that [the early summer start program] begin for all campuses starting in the summer of 2012," Singer said. "And, we have been sharing our experiences with our chancellor's office and are happy to share it with other campuses.”

Students in the summer program take two classes to prepare for their first semester. Singer said their rate of continuing on to sophomore year has been higher than that for other groups of similar students.

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