Welfare and Graduation Rates
August 1, 2010
Research in determining if welfare affects high school graduation has led to some very staggering numbers. In the past, we have learned that, generally speaking, being on welfare poses a variety of problems and that it does or can effect a child’s education. There have been past studies that seem to ...view middle of the document...
A majority (53.9 %) of those who attend college also experience more than one college spell during the period. However, in looking at overlapping college and welfare spells, multiple spells is less common. The majority of students who go to college while on aid do so only once (68.3%).
From Table 2, it is also clear that welfare recipients who attend college do so both while receiving aid and also while not receiving. Only slightly more than half of college spells for this population overlap with periods of welfare receipt.
Enrolling in college is one indicator of potential future success, but graduation may be an even better predictor. In 1990, midway through the NLSY panel, the United States college graduation rate was 48%, indicating that just under half of all entering first year college students are graduated within a year of their target graduation date (ACT, 2000). Graduation rates for welfare recipients, using a more generous definition, are substantially below this level. As is shown in Table 3, just 36 % of welfare recipients who attend college graduate at any time during the 20-year panel of the NLSY. In comparison, the NLSY sample shows that 55% of people who attend college and do not receive welfare graduate during the 20 years of the NLSY panel.
One argument used by opponents of allowing college education among welfare recipients is that it will artificially lengthen welfare spells as students remain on aid merely to complete a degree. The data shows, however; that the majority of welfare recipients do not use time on welfare to graduate. Only 16 % of student welfare recipients graduate from college while still receiving aid or in the two months following exit. 20% graduate during a period when they are not receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
Of those who graduate, welfare recipients are far more likely to obtain an Associate’s Degree (as compared to Bachelor’s or higher degrees) than those who do not receive welfare. 59% of college/welfare students who graduate complete an Associate’s Degree, compared to 20 % of non-welfare graduating from college in the NLSY.
Policymakers are more concerned with assisting welfare recipients to become self-sufficient.
This study examines three measures of self-sufficiency to study post-welfare outcomes: welfare recidivism, post-welfare employment, and post-welfare poverty. All measures are examined one- year and five years following the end of a welfare spell.
Tabulations indicate substantial returns to college attendance for welfare recipients. For all measures examined in Table 4, welfare recipients who attend college while on aid had superior outcomes to those who did not attend college. Results are strongest for the recidivism measure, in both the one-year and five-year time frames. Among those who did not attend college while on aid, 22.9 % came back on the rolls within a year of exit. In comparison, just 14.4 % of those who attended...