Report Takes Aim at For-Profit Colleges, Citing Low Graduation Rates and High Student Debt

"Subprime Opportunity," a report by the Education Trust, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, claimed that the main contribution of for-profit colleges to their students is "crippling debt."

For one thing, for-profit colleges are less effective at graduating their students within a reasonable time frame. As the New York Times reported in its article on the findings, the Education Trust "found that in 2008, only 22 percent of the first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree students at for-profit colleges over all graduate within six years, compared with 55 percent at public institutions and 65 percent at private nonprofit colleges."

This does not hold true, however, for students seeking associate degrees, for which for-profit colleges' 60% graduation rate within three years far outpaces the 22% at public community colleges.
Outside of graduation rates, one of the central concerns in the report was the amount of debt incurred by students at for-profit colleges, as compared with those at community colleges. According to the Times, as things stand today, "Many [students at for-profit colleges] either default on their loans, or struggle to make payments but find that their lives are taken over by debt."

Nick Haas (nihaas@umich.edu)
SSDAN Office

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