Flexible for-profits lure students

For-profit colleges offer an expensive but flexible alternative to “long waiting lists and restrictive class schedules” at cash-strapped community colleges, notes NPR’s Elaine Korry.

Tanya Friar, a mother of four, began nursing school several years ago at Delta Community College, east of San Francisco. But she had a hard time getting into the classes she needed at times she could attend. So she transferred to the University of Phoenix.

Friar: It totally fit with what I have to do — running around after four kids — it doesn’t require a lot of taking time off from work for me, I’m really able to adjust my schedule one day a week.

Her University of Phoenix degree will cost her an additional $20,000, compared to a community college degree, but she expects to make enough money to pay off the loans.

If going to Phoenix gets Friar into the nursing workforce a semester earlier — and it almost certainly will — she’ll cover the extra cost.  All of California’s community college nursing programs are turning away would-be students. (By state law, colleges can’t admit the best applicants; they must use a lottery to choose among those who meet minimal qualifications. That keeps the minority enrollment up.)

Of course, not all for-profit students earn a degree in a high-demand profession. For-profit students leave school owing $30,000 on average, reports Korry. “They are much more likely that public college students to default on federal loans.”

Colorado students — especially nursing students — also are leaving crowded community colleges in favor of for-profit alternatives, reports Education News of Colorado.

Community College of Aurora President Linda Bowman, who formerly worked in the proprietary sector, said enrollment at her campus climbed 20 percent this year. She said certain intensive programs, such as nursing, are expensive to deliver. . . .

“It’s very expensive for state-supported schools,” she said. “The fact that we try to keep the tuition so low results in our having a lack of capacity compared to demand and an inability to charge exactly what it costs.”

For-profits have unique strengths, including the imperative to seek out cost efficiencies, writes Rick Hess on Straight Up.

Innosight’s Michael Horn adds, For-profits are getting a bad rap on the Huffington Post.

On Mother Jones: For-profits rip off students, who are saddled with debt for dubious degrees.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON May 28, 2010

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