Are For-Profit Colleges Worth The Money? Many Former Students Left With Worthless Degrees

November 4, 2014  |  

There is story after story about unscrupulous for-profit educational institutions taking advantage of eager, unsuspecting students. And unfortunately, minorities are most likely to attend a for-profit institution, with these racial groups disproportionately enrolled. Veterans and active-duty military (approximately 30 percent of whom are minorities) are also targeted by for-profits since veterans have federal benefits and federally subsidized student loans.

African-American and Hispanic undergraduates at for-profit colleges are “more than twice as likely to borrow federal student loans – and more than three times as likely to take out private, high-interest rate education loans – as their counterparts at other colleges,” reports CNN.

Unemployed single mother Rosalyn Harris, 23, tried to improve her situation by going back to school. She entered in a two-year criminal justice program at for-profit Everest College in Chesapeake, Va., only to later discover that her degree was worthless and that she was in debt for more than $22,000 for student loans.

“My sole purpose of going to school was bettering my life for me and my son,” she told CNN. “But now I wish I had never gone.”

Many other students have complained about Everest College, which is a member of for-profit behemoth Corinthian Colleges. The school has been accused by federal agencies of operating a predatory lending scheme, targeting low-income students and falsely inflating job placement numbers. Corinithian is in the process of closing and selling its schools.

Corinthian isn’t the only for-profit school under scrutiny. These institutions are usually double or triple the cost of public institutions like community colleges. On top of this, the default rate (19 percent in 2013) was the highest of all sectors.

These negative practices by the for-profits affect a large number of students. “The U.S. Department of Education has reported that students at for-profit colleges represent 13 percent of all college enrollments but account for nearly half of all loan defaults. Approximately 95 percent of the for-profits’ revenue comes from taxpayer-supported benefits,” reports Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.

In the U.S., there are more than 3,000 for-profit education companies and they aggressively try to recruit new students with major promises of job opportunities following graduation. But this usually isn’t the case.

“What they really deliver is often far less. More than half of the students who enroll in a for-profit program leave without a degree or diploma after only a few months.  Shockingly, students sometimes complete their degrees only to find that the ‘college,’ or a specific degree or certificate program, was not properly accredited,” reports Divers.  And because the programs are not properly accredited,  graduates are ineligible for licensing exams in the professions they studied for.

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