For-profit colleges, or educational institutions operated by private, profit-seeking businesses, have experienced strong growth in enrollment. Recently, criticism has erupted over predatory-type marketing efforts targeting students, combined with less than stellar graduation rates and placement stats for their students. In fact, a recent study led by a Harvard University professor found that students from for-profit educational institutions have higher unemployment and lower earnings six years after entering programs than students from community colleges or other non-profit institutions. To make matters worse, these students often have more student debt and a higher default rate on their loans.
On April 27th, President Obama signed an Executive Order protecting veterans, service members, and their families from deceptive and misleading practices by educational institutions. The White House Press Announcement on 26 April states:
“Since the Post 9/11 GI Bill became law, there have been reports of aggressive and deceptive targeting of service members, veterans, and their families by educational institutions, particularly for-profit career colleges. For example, some institutions have recruited veterans with serious brain injuries and emotional vulnerabilities without providing academic support or counseling; encouraged service members, veterans, and their families to take out costly institutional loans rather than encouraging them to apply for Federal student aid first; engaged in misleading recruiting practices on military installations; and have not disclosed meaningful information that allows potential students to determine whether the institution has a good record of graduating service members, veterans, and their families and positioning them for success in the workplace.”
Bottom Line: As you evaluate your educational options, perform due diligence! Consider the following:
- Check the stats. Recent legislation requires that schools publish student outcome measures, such as completion rates for veterans. That data will be made available on Ed’s College Navigator website. Check out these figures and weigh them against other factors that are important to you, before committing to a program.
- Federal student aid. Do you qualify? Visit FAFSA’s site or speak with a representative before you take out loans.
- Counseling. Are you mentally and emotionally ready to attend school? If you have experienced serious brain injuries, or if you have signs and symptoms of PTSD, contact Give an Hour.
There are many schools out there (including for-profit) that may meet your needs. Take the precautions described above and stay tuned for more education and career tips from our blog!
Tip: Oftentimes schools publish mean salaries or median salaries of their students, not necessarily both statistics. If these figures are published separately, the data can be misleading. For example, a median salary of $80,000 means that upon graduating, half of the students earn salary below $80,000 and half earn a salary above $80,000. But, the salaries below $80,000 may be clustered at the low end of the range (close to $30,000) with only a few around $80,000. As you can see, the median does not tell you the spread of the data and can be misleading by itself!
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