An influential group of college presidents, civil rights leaders and advocates sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is highlighting what it calls a growing higher education dropout crisis and seeks to fix it in part by linking financial aid with successful graduation.
“Education is an economic issue,” Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and a member of the coalition, said in a statement. “We have to build a more equitable system of higher education to make us more competitive in the world economically.”
The group's report, released Thursday and called "The American Dream 2.0," said 46 percent of America's college students and 63 percent of African American students don't graduate college within six years. Changing the $226 billion financial aid system may help improve that, the report said.
College tuition has been rising faster than inflation as states have cut contributions to higher education. Over the last decade, students have doubled total annual borrowing, from $56 billion to $113 billion in constant dollars. Many students default on the crushing debt and drop out of school. The growing inaccessibility of college, and the huge dropout rate, "is eroding the American Dream and weakening our nation's ability to compete," the report said.