Georgia’s Graduation Rates

Georgia is apparently now going to focus on improving college graduation rates. Well, sort of. According to an article by James Salzer in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Gov. Nathan Deal said Thursday that a commission will look at ways to change how the state funds colleges. Giving financial incentives to schools that improve graduation rates will be one of the commission’s goals. Deal said about 44 percent of university students graduate within six years.

Under the plan, called the Complete College Georgia Initiative, technical and university system officials will develop plans to attack the problem, as will individual campuses. A $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be used to pilot programs at four schools, including Georgia Gwinnett College and DeKalb Technical College, to help improve the results of students who enter college needing remedial help.

This is, however, the same state that recently defunded the HOPE Scholarship, its program providing free tuition to reasonably high-achieving Georgia high school students.

Given this, I question how effective Deal’s Complete College Georgia Initiative is likely to be. Financial problems are a pretty common reason students drop out of college. A better way to improve graduation rate would be to give students enough money to go to college for four years. “Pilot programs at four schools” aren’t really likely to move the numbers much.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer