A new report by the Education Trust says that students at for-profit colleges are more likely to drop out and have greater debt than those at public and private non-profit schools. For-profit schools aggressively recruit students, but do little to retain them, with only 22% graduating after six years, compared with 55% at public institutions. 96% of the students who do graduate from for-profit schools are left with large debts, compared with 62% at public schools, and the default rate for these loans is double the rate at public and private non-profit schools, suggesting that the quality of education at these schools is insufficient for graduates to secure well-paying jobs.
Like subprime lenders, for-profit schools prey upon the poor and tend to look the other way and ignore obvious risk factors, accepting anyone who is willing to pay their high tuition and lousy loans. 50% of the students at for-profit schools come from low income backgrounds. Many of these students did not do very well in high school and could not get into a more reputable 4-year institution.
For-profit schools boast that they provide great opportunities for low income students to earn degrees and move into lucrative careers. However, many aspiring college students lack the skills to succeed in college, like good time management, perseverance or the ability to read and write at a college level. Saddling them with enormous debt and abandoning them to either sink or swim is not much of an opportunity. In contrast, small public community colleges are inexpensive and often provide remedial and support classes and counseling to help struggling students, without leaving them in hock up to their eyeballs. Many also articulate with local 4-year universities.