How Delaying College Enrollment Affects Earnings

February 21, 2019

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Title: Timing Matters: How Delaying College Enrollment Affects Earnings Trajectories

Source: Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University

A new study by the Community College Research Center looked at the effect of delaying college enrollment, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997.

Key findings include:

  • Over 40 percent of high school graduates in the sample did not enroll in college immediately; 21 percent never enrolled.
  • Delayers were 37 percentage points less likely to ever enroll in a four-year institution and 34 percentage points less likely to ever enroll in a two-year college.
  • Delayers were 23 percentage points less likely to have completed a bachelor’s degree and 19 percentage points less likely to have completed an associate degree.
  • Delayers lost at least $41,000 in total earnings in the first 13 years after high school graduation, compared with high school graduates who enrolled into college immediately following graduation.

The report suggests that policymakers should encourage on-time enrollment and prevent summer melt.

To read the full report, please visit the Community College Research Center website.

—Georgiana Mihut

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