5 Reasons Why You Should Avoid For-Profit Education

Graduates throwing hats in the air

Higher education has become a crucial key to success in our society. If you’ve only achieved a high school diploma, you can expect to find work in low-wage positions at department stores, fast food restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores, etc. On average, college graduates earn a staggering 66% more per year than high school graduates. It’s almost foolish to not continue your education after high school, but some people find their own way with experience, talent, and opportunity.

For the majority of us, having a college education is almost mandatory to get ahead, but it isn’t getting any cheaper. The College Board reports that the average cost of tuition, fees, housing/food, supplies, and travel expenses is $35,946 per year, per student. The median wage for a working person in the United States is $26,695 per year. Assuming a monthly payment of 1% of your total income ($266.95), it would 11 years, 2.65 months to pay off the principal balance – not including the 6% APR interest. So, when you’re making the important decision to go into debt for potentially 11+ years, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of each hard-earned dollar.

With a wide variety of post-secondary schools to choose from, it can be difficult to make the best decision for not only your intellect, but your financial future as well. To help with your decision-making, we’ve thought of a few reasons why you should avoid pursuing a degree at a For-Profit institution.

5. You’ll Pay More Per Credit

One of the biggest determining factors in pursuing higher education is the cost of tuition. The majority of For-Profit institutions charge more per credit than most Non-Profit institutions because of one major factor: they want to earn a profit! On average, students can expect to pay 20-50% more per credit at a For-Profit institution versus a Non-Profit institution.

Here’s a look at the cost-per-credit for several Non-Profit colleges in the United States:

  • Carnegie Mellon University, $690 per credit (Source)
  • University of Virginia, $417 per credit (Source)
  • Arkansas State University, $268 per credit (Source)
  • New Jersey City University, $264 per credit (Source)
  • Texas State University, $251 per credit (Source)
  • Lake Michigan College, $94 per credit (Source)

Here’s a look at the cost-per-credit for several For-Profit colleges in the United States:

  • Academy of Art University, $835 per credit (Source)
  • University of Phoenix, $520 per credit average (Source)
  • ITT Technical Institute, $493 per credit (Source)
  • The Art Institutes, $470 per credit (Source)
  • Kaplan University, $371 per credit (Source)
  • Strayer University, $315 per credit (Source)

As you can see, the cost per credit at a Non-Profit college is on-average $170 cheaper than the cost of a credit at a For-Profit college.

So, why pay more? One of the biggest reasons For-Profit institutions are often considered for higher education is due to the types of degrees they offer. For-Profit institutions are well-known for offering a variety of specialized degrees in fields such as Hospitality, Graphic Design, etc., unlike the majority of Non-Profit institutions, which tend to focus on overall general fields of study, such as Chemistry, Engineering, Communications, etc.

4. Most of the Credits Won’t Transfer

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. For-Profit institutions often use accrediting agencies that are not as high quality as Non-Profit institutions. For that reason, credits typically will not transfer from institution to institution, regardless if the receiving school is For-Profit or Non-Profit.

3. Instructors Don’t Always Have a Background in the Subject They Teach

At a For-Profit institution, you can expect to find instructors that have had years of experience in their field of expertise, limited experience, or no experience at all. Typically at a Non-Profit institution, instructors must a lengthy background in their subjects, including degrees and extensive work experience. It is very rare that a For-Profit institution will require a degree or background in higher education and/or a degree in the field of expertise. Usually, the only requirement to become an instructor at a For-Profit institute is a history of positive work experience within or close to the field. In other words, you really have no idea the quality of education you are receiving and paying for at a For-Profit college.

2. What You Learn Might Be Outdated by Several Years

If you ever have the opportunity to tour a For-Profit and a Non-Profit school, I encourage you to do so. You’ll notice the difference almost immediately, as there are usually smaller libraries and outdated computers in For-Profit schools. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. While many For-Profit schools list books that were written within the last 5 years in their curriculum, many instructors do not utilize books and do not require their students to use them either. This problem goes back to the whole “only experience” bit. If an instructor doesn’t expand and improve upon what they already know to meet modern innovations, they won’t be able to effectively prepare their students for real-world work – especially at a company that focuses on innovation (which is just about all of them).

1. The Name Doesn’t Look Good On Paper

When it comes to higher education, the reputation of the school can mean quite a bit when it comes to employment. Graduating from a school that has a long history of successful alumni holds more weight than a school of below-average or average graduating classes. Another downside to For-Profit schools is that they have no acceptance rate as they typically accept anyone who has the ability to afford tuition. Often in a For-Profit environment, a job placement percentage is used in lieu of a positive public reputation and they have to rely on advertising in order to garner new student bodies every year. Ultimately, even an education from a community college can have more influence than an education from a For-Profit school.

While for-profit schools like The Art Institutes, Kaplan University, and University of Phoenix often promise faster graduation times, you often pay higher tuition for lower-quality education. If you want to obtain your Associate’s Degree at a For-Profit institution and transfer to another school for your Bachelor’s Degree, you can count on the majority of the credits you earned previously to be discarded. It could also be difficult to garner respect for the education you have learned at a For-Profit school versus a Non-Profit school. Overall, the benefits of a non-profit education far outweighs those of a for-profit education.

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