4 Reasons Why You Should Avoid a For-Profit College

By   |  July 25, 2011

You may have heard about the recent string of controversies surrounding for-profit colleges and universities.  (see reference article at bottom)

In the past year and a half numerous reports and statistics have revealed that for-profit colleges are furthering student debt at a massive rate, yet failing to produce quality graduates at the same time.

If you’ve been hoping to submit an application at a for-profit college, or even if you know someone who has stated their interest in applying at a for-profit college in the near future, here are four factors to keep in mind:

1. They target minority and low-income students – Given the current state of the economy, more and more low-income and minority students are pursuing degrees at record high numbers, but unfortunately many of them are enrolling at for-profit institutions.

Because enrolment counsellors at for-profit colleges used to get paid according to how many students they enrolled, they would use “aggressive” recruiting tactics and even make false promises to potential students in order to put more money in their pockets.

Although these rules have changed thanks to the recent reports targeting these recruiting techniques, many students and graduates at for-profit colleges are still paying off loans because they believed these false promises.

2. Only a small percentage of students end up graduating – A mere 22 percent of all students at these for-profit institutions end up graduating within six years, compared to 55 percent of students at public institutions or 65 percent of students at private non-profit institutions. Not only that, many students end up dropping out of these for-profit colleges after a year or two, yet it could take years or even decades for them to pay off all of their student loans.

3. Student loan default rates are astronomical – Recent statistics have revealed that student loan default rates at for-profit colleges are actually twice as high as the default rates at public and private non-profit institutions.

And to add fuel to the fire, apparently for-profit institutions represent 43 percent of all of the federal student defaults for students in America, and 10 percent of all for-profit college students default on their federal loans within two years, while 19 percent of students default within three years.

4. Barely any students graduate debt free – Only four percent of students who graduate with bachelor’s degrees at for-profit colleges end up graduating debt free, compared to 38 percent at public institutions and 28 percent of students at private non-profit institutions.

Not only that, many for-profit college students who actually manage to graduate who end up defaulting on their student loans reported getting their income tax refunds “intercepted,” their wages “garnished” and their Social Security payments “withheld.”
Which poses the question: Are for-profit colleges really worth it?


Chloe Trogden specializes in research involving grants for college. She has compiled thousands of resources and continues to grow her database. She is currently attending UNC Chapel Hill and is entering her Junior year in the fall.

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2 Comments on “4 Reasons Why You Should Avoid a For-Profit College”  (RSS)

  1. As a private college counselor, I am pleased to see information of this kind. Too many students get pulled into these schools due to their advertising hype and are very disappointed with the education they receive and the debt they incur. Too often their degree, if they receive one, is not valued by employers either.


  2. For-profit schools are basically evil.

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