How Much High School Dropouts Cost You

Gustavo Renteria
Gustavo Renteria

As long as their own children graduate from high school and go on to college, most parents don't think twice about the other kids in the class. But, you should care because dropouts cost you money.

Texas taxpayers are left footing the bill for high school dropouts and it's not a small one... You end up paying $377 million dollars every year. 17-year-old Gustavo Renteria dropped out of high school 10 months ago. "I think about it everyday and I regret it everyday. I just wish I had thought about my future more and not been so foolish. I could have gotten a diploma. I could have graduated. I could have walked across the stage with my peers."

Renteria isn't the only one. "We go to school for 100 and some odd days and I think I missed 60 of them last year." After all those absences, Kaleb Spencer dropped out too. Every year, 119.000 Texas high school students make the same decision. "It seems like for some kids its the only solution. And we want to change that. We're going what we can to keep them in school," says Amarillo High School Associate Principal David Manchee. Caprock Cluster Director Doug Loomis says, "These kids dropping out is a huge problem, not only for AISD or Canyon or any other area school, but for the entire community. It definitely has a financial impact."

Here's how the numbers break down. For every child that's in school, $3,004 tax dollars are spent. For a drop out, it costs $3,168. So it costs more to support a drop out. Over a lifetime of 50 years, one class of dropouts costs Texas taxpayers $19 billion. Renteria is now getting his GED. "I'm doing this for me. I'm glad to know I'm not doing this for anyone else, just for me." Without a diploma or a GED, the government says he would cost you... Cost you thousands in Medicaid, welfare, possible incarceration costs and you'd feel the effects of a decreased state tax revenue as well.