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For-Profit Colleges
BY THE NUMBERS

For-Profit Colleges
BY THE NUMBERS

Trends in Enrollment

For-profit colleges were the fastest growing sector of higher education in the 1990s and 2000s, but their share of enrollment has since declined.

 For-Profit Colleges

 Public Colleges

 Private Nonprofit Colleges

 
 

Student Characteristics

Students at for-profits are disproportionately older, African American, and female, and are more likely to be single parents.

 For-Profit Colleges

 Public Two-Year Colleges

 Public Four-Year Colleges

24 Years or Older

African American

Female

Single Parent

Students at for-profits are less likely to have graduated from high school.

Percentage of Entering First-Time College Students With a High School Diploma (Fall 2011)

%

For-Profit Colleges

%

Public Two-Year Colleges

%

Public Four-Year Colleges

Percentage of entering first-time college students with a high school diploma (fall 2011)

Tuition and Fees

For-profit colleges charge higher tuition and fees than community colleges and public universities.

Average Tuition and Fees for Full-Time Undergraduates, 2016–17

PiggyBanks

Community Colleges

Public Four-Year Colleges

For-Profit Colleges

Private Four-Year Colleges

College Completion Rates

College students who enroll at for-profits are less likely to complete a program.

Six-Year Completion Rates for Fall 2011 College Entrants

%

For-Profit Four-Year Colleges

%

Public Four-Year Colleges

%

Private Four-Year Colleges

%

Public Two-Year Colleges*

Source: NSC Research Center

*Excludes dual enrollment students

Debt, Earnings, Employment, and Default

For-profit students take on more debt than other students.

 For-Profit Colleges

 Community Colleges

 Public Colleges

 Private Nonprofit Colleges

2012 associate degree recipients with $20,000 or more in debt

2012 bachelor’s degree recipients with $20,000 or more in debt

For-profit students earn less than students who attend public colleges.

Median earnings 10 years after first enrolling:

Two-year for-profit colleges: $28,700

Community colleges: $32,700

Four-year for-profit colleges: $38,700

Four-year public colleges: $42,400

For-profit college students are less likely to be employed.

Percentage of students who started college in 2003–04 who were no longer enrolled and were employed in 2009

%

For-Profit Colleges

%

Community Colleges

%

Four-Year Colleges

For-profit students are more likely to default on their loans.

Three-year default rates for borrowers who entered repayment in fiscal year 2014

%

For-Profit Colleges

%

Public Colleges

%

Private Colleges

Twelve-year default rates for all first-time students who started college in 2003–04

%

For-Profit Colleges

%

Public Four-Year Colleges

%

Private Nonprofit Four-Year Colleges

%

Community Colleges

Twelve-year default rates for borrowers who started college in 2003–04

%

For-Profit Colleges

%

Community Colleges

Further Reading

The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?
David Deming, Claudia Goldin, & Lawrence F. Katz (February 2012)

The Public and For-Profit College Sectors: A Direct Economic Comparison
Clive Belfield (October 19, 2016)

What’s Next for For-Profit Higher Education? [webinar]
Clive Belfield (November 30, 2016)

Updated February 2018