A new report on graduation rates at for-profit colleges by a nonprofit research and advocacy group reports that:
" As with the collapse of the subprime lending industry, the showdown between for-profit colleges and the government shows how the aspirations of the underserved, when combined with lax regulation, make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. For-profit colleges provide highcost degree programs that have little chance of leading to high-paying careers, and saddle the most vulnerable students with heavy debt. Instead of providing a solid pathway to the middle class, they pave a path into the subbasement of the American economy."
The report by the Education Trust concludes that for-profit colleges deliver “little more than crippling debt,” citing federal data that suggests only 9 percent of the first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree students at the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit college, graduate within six years.
The report, “Subprime Opportunity,” 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.
Among Phoenix’s online students, only 5 percent graduated within six years, and at the campuses in Cleveland and Wichita, Kan., only 4 percent graduated within six years. The Milwaukee campus was only slightly better with an 8% graduation rate.
Since the first-time, full-time students tracked in the federal statistics are the most likely to graduate, the report said, these figures may actually overstate the graduation rates.
“For-profits proudly claim to be models of access in higher education because they willingly open their doors to disadvantaged, underprepared students.” said José L. Cruz, a vice president for the trust. “But we must ask the question, ‘Access to what?’ ”
The report concludes;" If there is one thing that the for-profitts can virtually guarantee their students, it’s years and years of student loan debt.
In a separate study also released Tuesday, the Pew Research Center reported that almost one-quarter of those who received bachelor’s degrees at for-profit schools in 2008 borrowed more than $40,000, compared with 5 percent at public institutions and 14 percent at not-for-profit colleges. Over all, the Pew report found that students who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2008 borrowed 50 percent more, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than those who graduated in 1996. Those who earned an associate degree or certificate in 2008 borrowed more than twice as much as their 1996 counterparts.
The Education Trust is financed partly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This month, Melinda Gates resigned from the board of the Washington Post Company, which gets most of its revenues from its for-profit higher-education unit, Kaplan Inc.
The entire Education Trust report is linked here.