Just 54 percent of students entering four-year colleges in 1997 had a degree six years later — and even fewer Hispanics and blacks did, according to some of the latest government figures. After borrowing for school but failing to graduate, many of those students may be worse off than if they had never attended college at all.Children from poorer families are more likely to drop out, as are minority children. However, drop out rates do not appear to be predestined - some colleges do a good job of keeping these kids in through their degree, others don't.
In his State of the Union Address, Obama's big "let's go to the moon" moment was a pledge that, "By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That is a goal we can meet." Curently, we are 12th on this metric if you include adults from 25-34 with either a batchelors or associates degree (we do better if you include everyone up to the age of 64, but that's because other countries were further behind us then - they've recently caught up and surpassed us).
Obama's budget creates a $2.5 Billion Completion Incentive Fund to allow colleges to adopt the techniquest that have been successful at high-graduation schools.
Why does this matter? Well, leaving aside the social justice argument that poorer kids should have more chances to raise themselves up than they currently have, this program fulfills a very practical need: we aren't producing enough doctors, teachers, scientists or engineers to meet the countries needs today, let alone for the future. If this money can help even a fraction of the 46% of students who don't graduate to actually complete their degrees, it will buy us a downpayment on that future. Money well spent.