Black, Hispanic and all male students in general currently enrolled in a postsecondary program have increasingly considered stopping out of their program, according to a new report from Gallup and the Lumina Foundation.
“The State of Higher Education 2023” report found that more than half of all Hispanic students (52%) considered stopping out in 2022, followed by Black students at 43% and male students at 41%. However, Hispanic and Male students shared the highest increased rate considering stopping out compared to last year, with an 8% jump.
These demographics were also the most likely to report that it was “difficult” or “very difficult” to remain enrolled in their programs. While Hispanic and White students reported increased rates compared to last year, the percentage of Black students reporting this dropped by 2%.
Asian and white students were the least likely to consider stopping out, at 30% and 36% respectively.
While Black, Hispanic and Male students report being the most at-risk of leaving their coursework for at least one semester, 90% to 91% say they are “confident” or “very confident” that they will complete their program. This solidarity is shared among all demographics and genders.
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Why the struggle?
Roughly half of students reported emotional stress and personal mental health as the top two most significant reasons they considered stopping their coursework; 55% cited emotional stress and 47% cited personal mental health reasons.
While the cost of a degree or credential program came in third, it was only mentioned by 29% of students, a far cry from their internal struggle. This is most likely due to how significantly financial aid or scholarships are playing out in keeping students enrolled. Most degree-seekers pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree deemed finances and scholarships as a “very important” factor in helping them remain enrolled at 58% and 59%, respectively.
Among all currently enrolled students who considered stopping out, 36% said support from a school counselor or mental health professional helped them remain enrolled, the second-most cited factor.
Barriers to entry
For adults not enrolled in a degree or certificate program, personal mental health reasons and emotional stress again popped up as the second-most prominent factors inhibiting their enrollment, behind tuition costs and inflation.
However, Black and Hispanic adults reported childcare responsibilities and caring for an adult family member or friend at significantly higher rates than white adults. Specifically, the percentage of Black and Hispanic adults reporting family and friend caretaking as a “very important” reason was almost double the rate of white adults, at 29% and 31% compared to 17%.