Can it be that the federal government has been waging war on for-profit colleges because, with all their problems, they still make traditional institutions of higher learning look bad?
For example, the Obama Administration famously created a “gainful employment” rule for for-profits to follow in which they would be barred from receiving Pell grants if their graduates were not “gainfully employed” after graduation. How many private non-profits let alone public colleges could live up to such a standard?
At a Cato Institute conference examining for-profit higher education, economist Richard Vedder showed that a comparison of just two schools—the public University of the District of Columbia and the for-profit Strayer University—within five miles of Cato is illustrative.
For example, UDC has a graduation rate of 15 percent compared with Strayer’s 23 percent. Similarly, UDC grads after college earnings average $34,000 compared to Strayer grads’ $49,000.
At the Cato forum, Ben Miller, senior director of Postsecondary Education studies at the Center for American Progress (CAP), pointed out that graduates of for-profit colleges typically receive certificates while those who graduate from colleges get degrees. That is true, when they get them.
More often, they are looking at “withdraw passing” or, worse yet, “withdraw fail,” which makes those certificates look much more precious.
Photo by M.V. Jantzen