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Advice on For-Profit Colleges

For-profit colleges can provide features that are intriguing to prospective students, such as their high acceptance rates and the flexible schooling options. These are higher-education institutions that pay taxes and operate as businesses. 

They often target unconventional students (veterans, working parents, low-income students), but have above average tuition rates.

When considering a for-profit college, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1. High acceptance rates can often mean a lower quality of education and discouraging outcomes. 

  • Class size can be high meaning less attention from the professor. 
  • In 2008, only 22% percent of first- and full-time students at for-profit colleges graduated, compared to 55% and 65% of students at public and private nonprofit universities, respectively.
  • The majority of programs (72%) offered at for-profit colleges produced graduates that earned less than high school dropouts.
  • 46% of people who entered repayment on their student loans in 2010 and were in default by 2012.

2. Schools provide loans, but this can lead to taking on too much debt. 
Many for-profit colleges hire recruits who target low-income families to attend the college. But if many students drop out of college after taking on these loans, then they are rarely in a position to repay the debt. 

3. Tuition is used for more than academics. 
Since for-profit colleges need to make money in order to stay in business, a portion of the tuition money goes to marketing and efforts to continue bringing more students. 

While many for-profit colleges offer high-quality education and programs that can improve a person’s job prospects upon graduation, it is important to thoroughly research each of these options.  


Sources:
Subprime Opportunity: The Unfulfilled Promise of For-Profit Colleges and Universities, The Education Trust, November 22, 2010. 

For Students Swindled by Predatory Colleges, Relief May Only Be Partial, The New York Times, December 21, 2017.