Dropouts who don’t end up dead often end up in prison. By age 34, dropouts are about 140 times more likely to be in correctional institutions than their peers with college degrees, according to a 2011 study by Northeastern University in Boston. In Illinois, half of the people in prison in 2011 hadn’t finished high school.

Those who don’t end up dead or in prison often can’t find jobs. “Dropping out is economic suicide,” says Northeastern labor economist Andrew Sum. Chicago’s jobless rate for dropouts is quadruple that of people with college degrees. Over a lifetime, Illinois dropouts earn 25 percent of what college grads do. A dropout costs the nation more than $300,000 in his or her working years, compared with a high school graduate, in lost tax revenues; dropouts pay less in taxes because they earn less.