For-Profit Colleges: What are they?

Over the summer, the Carolina Education Policy Association at UNC invited Constance Iloh from the University of Southern California School of Education to share her research on For-Profit Colleges and their students through a presentation entitled ā€œDegrees of Separation? Understanding the Complexity and College-Going Culture of the For-Profit Higher Education Sector.ā€ As these colleges continue to gain momentum and popularity there are some important questions to be answered. Iloh is working toward finding empirical evidence to answer some of these questions, but her presentation this summer focused specially on who is attending these colleges and why. Below are some of the highlights of her research.

  • Students attending for-profit colleges account for 11% of the higher education population.

Who are these students?

  • Tend to be 24 years old or older (This population accounts for only 30% of the students at public and private colleges)
  • 40% are students of color (as compared to 29% within public colleges and 23% within private colleges)
  • Majority low-income
  • 96% of students at for-profit colleges take out student loans (Compared to 13% at Community Colleges, 50% at Public, and57% at private.

Why are these students choosing For-profit Colleges when they may be able to acquire the same degree at another college for less?

  • They are easier to get into
  • Provide more flexible scheduling
  • Have better initial human to human relations
  • Easier to navigate system

Iloh continues to research For-Profit Colleges and her current research is available through on her website.

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