19 May 2022


Declining College Completion Rate

Format: APA

Academic level: Master’s

Paper type: Capstone Project

Words: 3916

Pages: 7

Downloads: 0

One controversial topic that is always being discussed is the completion rates declining in higher education. College and universities are constantly growing each year with high numbers for freshmen enrolled, but the completion rates are declining. There are several reasons college completion rates are declining: students are dropping out and cannot continue to pay. The president of the college should review different ways to keep students engaged and wanting to attend college. A few ways to increase completion rates are focusing on the cost of college, having activities for the students, and help students with student loans.

The completion rate for college is declining more each year and part of the reason is that students lack the funds to help pay for college. To help students pay for college there should be an organization established so that students can receive a certain amount each semester to help pay for college. The money will be fundraised and students would be allowed to help raise the money. The organization will consist of a committee of staff, be sure to have an annual budget, and the rules on making donations. I feel this organization will be helpful to students that a few hundred short of having their balance paid off.

It’s time to jumpstart your paper!

Delegate your assignment to our experts and they will do the rest.

Get custom essay

Background of the Project

The completion rate in college is dropping each year due to students' lack of knowledge on funding, lack of motivation, and ones that need assistance paying for college. College tuition fees and dues are very expensive and often, students have to pay out of pocket for college. Often, students lose motivation for college and then drop out and begin working. I will evaluate a plan to help students so that the completion rate will increase instead of decrease. My plan will consist of checkpoints and goals, measured success, and how I will be able to address problems that arise.

The project will evaluate by first getting a committee together that will be willing to help and organize ways to help students learn about funding, motivate, and help with assisting students. The committee will work together to establish a budget, develop a plan on how we will help students, and organize therapy sessions with the students to help motivate them. There will be a host of interviews conducted to help establish a great group of individuals that will be willing to help students. Upon evaluating the project, we will need to gather statistical information on the average student completion rate. Scire (2019) states that about 60% of students graduate within six years. That leaves 40% that are dropping out each year. This information can help the committee form a plan to help motivate the 40% on how important it is to stay in school.

After the committee is formed we will then have to make goals and try to accomplish the goals we have set. To help the students we will need to stay knowledgeable of student funding, being able to motivate the students, and funds to help students pay for college. Being part of the committee we will have to complete training and meet each week to develop plans to help students. The first goal that we will set will include gathering students to attend a small seminar explaining financial aid. Most college students only attend seminars if the teacher offered to give extra points. If we have a goal to get at least 100 students where they may be able to help get out the information that will be given. Another goal would be to attend local high schools to help incoming freshmen with understanding the importance of completing college. There will be checkpoints such as asking the students about how soon should they apply for financial aid. According to Ragland, there students that are enrolling in college that are finding it harder to complete students because funds are limited(2016). Students need to be aware of completing financial aid promptly to receive the full amount. Another checkpoint will include keeping a count to ensure we are getting more students in each seminar. Seminars will be held monthly and will be available for freshman, sophomore, juniors, and seniors.

Success will be measured at the end of each semester by taking an average to see if the completion rate decreased. The committee will keep track of the percentage of students from the start of the program and each semester makes sure students are attending meetings and getting the resources they need to help complete college. Another way to measure success for the project would be to do a course evaluation that allows students to fill out and give their opinions on rather or not they think the committee is doing a good job. Students will be able to measure their success by having more knowledge of funding, being a little more motivated to complete college, and having assistance with paying for college.

Just like every project or business that has been establishing some problems arise. There is always more than one way to solve a problem, but having a dedicated team to work with always helps resolve problems. One problem that we would run into would be men and lower-income individuals, not complete college. Cohodes and Goodman(2012) state that the declining rates affect men and individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds. To solve this problem I would first ensure there are men on the committee that would be able to talk to and motivate the male students. Often, in college students need a mentor and I would have mentors set up for the students to help with anything they need. The next problem would be lower socio-economic students not completing college. The reason behind them not completing would be low funds, having to find work instead of attending school, and not knowing how to get a grant or other financial resources. To solve this problem I would start by attending the high schools to talk with the students and to let them know it does not matter where you come from there are always funds to help and being from lower-income there are more funds available. I would gather information on different grants and make handouts to that the students will have the information they need. Next, I would talk with the students at the college and explain to them that having a part-time job in college is helpful, but a college degree will help with landing a better paying job.

Project Description

One project that would be beneficial in helping the declining rate in college would be first to ensure students have the proper knowledge of different grants and student aid. The student should know about free money before starting to apply for loans. Next, I would set up different organizations to help encourage and motivate students. Last, I would try to set up funding for students who need a little more assistance with covering their accounts. This funding will consist of donations from the community and students will be able to help with this funding account as well. It is very important now to have a degree just to have a decent paying job in the world today.

In society today there are grants for almost everyone. There are grants for single mothers, disable first-time college students and lottery scholarships. My goal would be for students that are juniors and seniors at the local high schools to attend workshops. The workshops would be held monthly and will allow students the opportunity to learn about the different programs and to apply if they are getting ready for college. With the cost of college being expensive and most students having to take out loans to afford college I think this would be the perfect step. The SallieMae website defines the difference between scholarships and grants, both are free money for school and will help pay for education. The website list several different grant and scholarship offers for students to apply for. The website also gives the different steps to apply for FAFSA, the deadline to apply, and how to understand your offer.

Next, I would start a group of staff and faculty that students will be able to go to if they are needing someone to talk to. The organizations would be similar to a support group for the students and they will be able to reach anyone in the as needed. Often in college students feel alone and depending on their circumstances are often needing someone to talk to. This organization will be a little different than the campus therapist because students are often afraid to visit the therapist. I will take myself as the perfect example, after losing my mother I have been stressed. I chose not to talk to the campus therapist but will reach out to other SAU faculty members (Mrs. Woods) when I am needing to talk. The organization will have male and female staff for the students to talk to and will be able to schedule private sessions.

Last, I would like to have a funding organization to help students that need a little extra money for college after finical aid and grants have paid the max amount. Often, students need a little extra money to help pay for college and with this organization, students will be able to get money towards their balance without having to pay it back. Funds for this organization will come from community donations and other donations. The students will be able to help raise money for the organization and each year hold an annual banquet to recognize the donors. In my opinion, this will help students keep down loan debt and will allow them to work with a fundraising committee.

Literature Review

College education plays a crucial role in employing individuals for careers considering that it is an avenue for instilling requisite skills. While college education is so vital, it is not automatic that all the individuals who enroll in colleges will graduate. There are various reasons why students do not complete college, most of which have to do with existing policies and widening inequalities. Numerous research studies determine why college completion rates are on the decline despite an increase in high education funding. A review of existing literature aims at establishing why the US continues to grapple with low college completion rates and ways to avert this worrying trend.

The federal and state governments play a pivotal role in higher education as they formulate economic and educational policies for improving access and quality of education. However, the policies do not seem to yield positive results as the number of people graduating from college remains low. Rubin & Hearn (2018) establish that the reason for the decline is the fact that postsecondary education is decentralized. In this case, then there are no uniform policies since each state acts on its discretion, which makes postsecondary education appear less critical, and in turn, a drop in completion rates. Decentralizing postsecondary education paves the way for different financial policies as each state finds ways for funding students for a college education. Ragland (2016) notes that while state fiscal policies are directed towards improving college enrollment, they do not encourage completion. These policies seem to be negatively skewed since they appear to be tools for reinforcing existing economic disparities since it is the affluent students who get financial aid. The situation is worse for undocumented immigrants who, despite needing college education to thrive, cannot adequately access it owing to strict immigration policies. According to Terriquez (2014), students who get a chance to get into college end up dropping out since they become overwhelmed as they have to work to support their families. Most of the time, these students have to grapple with strict legal requirements associated with immigration.

Economic and gender disparities are significant contributors to declining college completion rates since they point to skewed in the allocation of resources. Students from underrepresented and low- income families tend to spend more time in college as they tend to forfeit semesters and even drop out altogether. Scire (2019) asserts that up to 40 percent of full-time and first-time students drop out of college since they struggle with the financial aspect and demand for a college education. Economic disparities take on a geographical perspective in that rural students tend to drop out of college as compared to their urban counterparts. Marre (2014) establishes that rural areas appear to be overly neglected since the federal and state governments channel development projects to urban areas. Rural students who are lucky to enroll in college risk dropping out owing to financial challenges since most states offer grants based on qualification as opposed to merit. A failure to complete college worsens the existing economic disparities since college dropouts have limited chances of getting meaningful and gainful employment. Long (2018) advances the idea that college completion is the best way of gauging students’ success, and in this case, a failure to graduate impedes individuals’ social mobility. Individuals who fail to complete college limit not only their chances for economic empowerment but also burdens taxpayers’ who pay up to $130 billion per year to support higher education. Looking at the figures, one can conclude that economic disparities threaten to lead to a further decline in the college completion rate if unchecked.

College completion rates are on a decline with trends establishing the need for timely intervention measures to deal with factors contributing to the scenario. While federal and state governments have put policies in place to encourage enrolment, completion is still an issue. Shapiro et al. (2017) tracked a cohort for six years from 2011 to understand the factors that lead to a low completion rate. The study findings indicate that at the end of six years, only 56.9 % of the cohort graduated with Blacks and Hispanics displaying lower completion rates as compared to whites. The statistics indicate that minority racial groups still demonstrate a negative trend in college completion. Kantrowitz (2012) decries policies that seem to discriminate against low-income students and, in turn, lead to high enrolment rates but low completion rates. Most of these policies require colleges to increase the number of graduates, which forces them to select only the students with high GPAs. The requirement translates to awarding of scholarships on merit-based as opposed to needs-based, something that disenfranchises low-income students. These students may not complete college since they do not have adequate finances and are most often than not forced to drop out of college. Roble (2017) affirms that financial inequalities continue to be a major factor contributing to declining college completion rates. First-generation students whose parents did not receive a college education, which helps in enhancing social mobility, are likely to drop out owing to lack of finances. A lack of college education predicates a similar trend in the subsequent generations creating a vicious cycle of declining college completion rates.

A college education is quite demanding, especially when it comes to financial obligations related to academics, research, accommodation, and miscellaneous expense. The increased cost of education is a significant factor contributing to declining completion rates. Goldrick-Rab & Kendall (2016) decries federal and state policies that appear to be overstated and which do reduce the cost for college education in any way. Students who cannot afford the expenses are either forced to drop out since they cannot balance learning and working to sustain their studies and other needs. It is important to note that the quality of college correlates with costs with lower quality colleges charging less without guaranteeing the quality of education. Cohodes & Goodman (2012) focuses attention on the Massachusetts merit aid program that waives tuition for high performing high school students. The students are placed in lower-quality colleges despite performing well as such placement seems to demotivate them, considering that most of them drop out. The quality of education appears to be a significant factor that correlates with completion levels. Bound et al. (2010) affirm that lower-quality colleges tend to have limited institutional resources, which seem to limit the support the student gets. It is important to note that new students are not adequately prepared for college, the lack of support is likely to demotivate them, and some opt to drop out in the early years.

The US higher education landscape has changed significantly over the years owing to educational policies that have created a different perspective on declining college completion. There seems to be a new trend of college enrolment and completion rates with minority races overtaking the predominant race though the completion curve is on the decline. Fry & Taylor (2013) establishes that the college enrolment rate for Hispanics is on the rise as they have surpassed the whites. However, Hispanics are more likely to enroll in two-years or selective colleges, and only 11% of those that enroll in full-time and four-year colleges graduate. Santiago & Galdeano (2015) echo these sentiments by establishing that Latinos, just like Hispanics, are benefiting from education policies that target to improve the educational outcomes of minority races. Nonetheless, a lack of race-conscious efforts leads to limited access to college education, which translates to lower completion rates. The lack of completion is creating a new reality for American students who are forced to retreat to their parents for support. Houle & Warner (2017) affirm that students who attend two-year or for-profit colleges realize that they have slimmer opportunities in the labor market and are forced to drop out. The students soon understand that they have no skills and that they are required to pay back student loans. These burdens pave the way for a continued cycle of non-completion as the students cannot possibly afford to educate their children in the future.

A college education may be the most reliable measure for ascertaining that individuals have the requisite technical skills for professional positions. While college education is so important, the US is yet to report graduation of entire cohorts that join its colleges. Instead, the nation continues to grapple with declining college completion rates, something that is threatening the availability of labor force. The reason for the sharp decline is weak and ineffective educational policies that thrive on racial and economic differences. Students from poor backgrounds and minority racial groups do not get the support they get, and they end up joining inferior quality colleges, which demotivate them. Students who manage to join high-quality colleges have to deal with high costs, which are out of reach for many. As a result, most of the students are forced to drop out sine the decentralized postsecondary educational policies are skewed against the minorities. Existing literature indicates that more needs to be done to ensure that students who are in a greater need for college education receive requisite support to bridge the college completion rate gap.

Increasing College Completion Rate

I think to help increase the completion rate the college should review the cost of college. Students are paying over $3,000 a semester to attend college and even more if they are living in the dorms each semester. Students are having to pay for library fees, books, nurse fees, athletic fees, and fees to save their schedule. There should be a way some fees are waived or maybe not expensive so students will be able to afford to attend college for several years. Students that are living on campus are having to pay an extra $2,000-$3,500 more just for a dorm they are having to split with another student. There should be a way students can pay for the dorm at one flat rate rather than paying each semester.

Second, trying to keep students engaged so they will enjoy going to class and attending college. Southern Arkansas University hosts chili cook-offs, spring concert, and other Greek related activities, but what about the students that are not in Greek life? Students want to feel involved and have something to do besides attending class and going straight to the dorm. There should maybe be a small theatre for students, skating rink, and maybe a bowling alley. This will allow students activities to do in their spare time and would also aid in student worker jobs for students.

Last, helping pay back student loans. A lot of students drop out of college because they can no longer afford to take out a loan to help pay. The college should come up with a plan that will help students that graduate with their bachelor's and master's pay back a certain percentage of their loans back. I think with students knowing they will have assistance with repaying loans will not only increase completion rates in undergraduate but in graduate school as well.


For this organization to operate smoothly there would have to be staff willing to help raise money. The staffing team would consist of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasure as the main members to help organize and set up fundraisers. There will also, be team members that are allowed to join to help with organization. The organization is completely voluntary so staff members will not receive pay. The President will be in charge of holding meetings and ensure each member is helping out with the different tasks. The vice president will be in charge of conducting fundraisers and the secretary is in charge of taking notes of each meeting. The treasure is in charge of handling all money that the organization collects. The general members of the organization are in charge of promoting and trying to get donations.

The budget is extremely important because the majority of the money will be received via donations and fundraisers. For students to receive money from the organization there will need to be at least one million dollars to start with. This will allow students to only take what is needed, such as if they have a balance of five hundred dollars instead of borrowing the money from student loans they will be able to meet with the board members about getting the money from the organization. Before the organization starts donating the money they will first have to build their account with money. They will first have to start will small donations are going around taking notes to the local businesses for donations, ask the alumna members for donations, and host events that will help with donations. To stay on budget and to be able to donate to the students there will have to be donations brought in almost daily.

The donations that are collected will be similar to financial aid, a first come first serve basis. Since this will be a new organization for students there will be students livid to receive the donations. To receive funds students will have to bring a copy of their student accounts bill and be full-time students. Having students to bring a copy of their student accounts bill will show the exact amount they are needing and how much we need to send the check to the office of student accounts. Students will not be allowed to receive cash nor will they be allowed to receive the check.


The program/plan that I have put together will be very beneficial for students that are beginning freshman, sophomore, junior, and seniors. All students need a little extra assistance with college rather its learning more about how to apply or having the extra cash to pay for college. To help increase the rate of completions students need to know more about college grants and scholarships, have a mentor program, and have help paying for college. One of the main reasons students drop out is because they can not afford to attend. I would start putting my committee together in the summer so that when the fall semester starts we will be able to help students with anything they need. This project committee will help students learn about funding for college, motivate them to finish college, and help with assistance paying for college. There will be goals set to ensure the completion rate is increasing instead of decreasing and goals set to ensure students are taking notes of the different knowledge they are receiving. I think this will be a great opportunity for students who need a little extra cash to help cover college expenses. This will allow students to not take out as many student loans. The budget will require at least a million dollars to start so that we can ensure we accommodate each student that applies. The organization's office will be set up on campus so that students can have access at all times. The organization will meet each week with new plans to discuss how to continue raising money for the students.


Bound, J., Lovenheim, M. F., & Turner, S. (2010). Why have college completion rates declined? An analysis of changing student preparation and collegiate resources. American Economic Journal of Applied Economics, 2(3), 129–157. https://doi.org/10.1257/app.2.3.129

Cohodes, S., & Goodman, J. (2012). First degree earns: The impact of college quality on college completion rates. John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University . https://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/9396433

Fry, R., & Taylor, P. (2013). Hispanic high school graduates pass whites in the rate of college enrollment. Pew Research Center. http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2013/05/PHC_college_enrollment_2013-05.pdf

Goldrick-Rab, S., & Kendall, N. (2016). The real price of college- College completion series: Part two. The Century Foundation . https://tcf.org/content/report/the-real-price-of-college/

Houle, J., & Warner, C. (2017). Into the red and back to the nest? Student debt, college completion, and returning to the parental home among young adults. Sociology of Education, 90(1), 89-108. DOI: 10.1177/0038040716685873

Kantrowitz, M. (2012). The college completion agenda may sacrifice college access for low-income, minority, and other at-risk students. FinAid Page LLC. https://www.finaid.org/educators/20120910completionagenda.pdf

Long, B. T. (2018). The college completion landscape trends, challenges, and why it matters. American Enterprise Institute and Third Way Institute. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/95151/TheCollegeCompletionLandscape.ppd?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Marre, A. (2014). Rural areas lag urban areas in college completion. Amber Wave s, 11, 1-11. DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.210014

Ragland, S, E. (2016). The effect of state financial aid policies on college completion . [Doctoral thesis]. Walden University, Minneapolis MN, United States.

Roble, J. (2017). Falling further behind: Inequality in college completion. Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin. https://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/factsheets/pdfs/FactSheet13-InequalityCollegeCompletion.pdf

Rubin, P. G., & Hearn, J. C. (2018). The policy filtering process: Understanding distinctive state responses to the national college completion agenda in the United States. Education Policy Analysis Archives , 26(60). http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.26.3447

Santiago, D. A., & Galdeano, E. C. (2015). Helping or hindering? State policies and Latino college completion. Excelencia in Education . https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/83088/StatePoliciesLatinoCollegeCompletiSt.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Scire, D. (2019). The effect of state financial aid policies on college completion. Campus Compact. https://www.compactnh.org/wp-content/uploads/large/sites/62/2019/03/CCNH-Research-Brief-2_27_19.pdf

Shapiro, D., Dundar, A., Huie, F., Wakhungu, P.K., Yuan, X., Nathan, A. & Bhimdiwali, A. (2017). Completing college: A national view of student completion rates – fall 2011 cohort (Signature Report No. 14). National Student Clearinghouse Research Center . https://nscresearchcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/SignatureReport14_Final.pdf

Terriquez, V. (2014). Dreams delayed: Barriers to degree completion among undocumented community college students. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies , 41(8), 1302–1323. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2014.968534

Cite this page

Select style:


StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). Declining College Completion Rate.


Related essays

We post free essay examples for college on a regular basis. Stay in the know!

17 Sep 2023

Personal Statement for College

Growing up in the inner city especially as a first-generation African-American is very challenging mainly because of poverty that makes every aspect of life difficult. These are neighborhoods with poor services and...

Words: 926

Pages: 3

Views: 115

17 Sep 2023

Phonics and Phonemic Awareness Lesson Plan for Kindergarten

The objective of this lesson plan is to teach students how to add or interchange individual sounds within one syllable words. The will the students to learn new words and new pronunciations. The use of CVC word...

Words: 329

Pages: 1

Views: 223

17 Sep 2023

Similarities and Differences of Educational Theories

As a philosophy of education, idealism is based on the notion that reality should only be inferred from ideas. People should strive to conceive ideas as the only source of world reality. They must apply conscious...

Words: 1304

Pages: 5

Views: 89

17 Sep 2023

How to Overcome Financial Challenges in Research

Running a school and improving the way it operates requires the availability of resources, prime of which is money. The financing of school budgets in the US varies between school districts and states. The...

Words: 3007

Pages: 10

Views: 58

17 Sep 2023

Suggestopedia Learning Method Analysis

The video is an explanation of the suggestopedia, and this is a learning method that’s used in classrooms, particularly in those ones in which students are taking English as their second language. This method is...

Words: 926

Pages: 3

Views: 62

17 Sep 2023

Behaviorist versus Humanist Philosophical Orientation

Purpose of the philosophical orientation Psychologists and other researchers have for the longest time tried to unearth the behavioral orientations of individuals by integrating numerous approaches. One of the most...

Words: 2558

Pages: 9

Views: 135


Running out of time?

Entrust your assignment to proficient writers and receive TOP-quality paper before the deadline is over.