For-Profit Colleges Are Not The Problem, State Schools Are

Am I one of the only people who want to say "thank you" to the for-profit schools? To the online higher education market?

Thank you University of Phoenix and Kaplan University and all of the other universities who had the courage almost a decade ago to take a risk.

A risk that has not only provided individuals the opportunity to get their degrees even while working and taking care of families, but also paved the way and built the models that now allows state universities to offer these degrees online as well.

As congressional talks surrounding the negative impact online education has had on graduation rates and specifically loan default rates; what we are not hearing are long term solutions. We are hearing suggestions of Band-Aids.

Do I like the idea of the gainful employment laws? Yes! That said, if we are going to implement them, it should be done across the board and it needs government support to get started. What these lawmakers are failing to recognize is that it took guts, innovation, large investments and a lot of time NOT being profitable for these for profit online education companies to get where they are today…and the model is less than TEN YEARS OLD.

How can the for-profit schools be expected to figure out HOW to raise their graduation rates and how to lower their default rates when most of them just recently figured out how to get students to graduate?

The disservice that has been committed in the higher education industry is not from the for-profits; but rather – I blame the state universities; specifically, the marketing departments at these state universities.

There are hundreds of state universities offering online programs at low to medium prices. We have seen everything from $7,000 M.Ed programs all the way through $13,000 nursing programs. Not only are they far less expensive, but their graduation rates are higher.

Again, as these state universities online degrees have only been around for about five years; perhaps there is not enough statistically significant data here, but it does look promising.

So instead of attempting to shut down an industry that has opened the doors for people to better their lives; why not work with the state universities to offer more of these programs that have displayed high graduation rates, low cohort default rates and other positive statistics.

The marketing teams at these schools are to blame. They are the ones not fighting for the budget or not taking the risks. If all of the for-profits can run television, why can’t the state schools? It’s relatively inexpensive to run remnant television and these days, television can be run on a cost per inquiry basis.

If the state universities and enrollment management companies are too “fearful” to go into the red for a couple years – maybe the government should be forcing them to hand over a portion of their revenue and allow the marketing geniuses at the for-profit schools take a stab at branding and developing them.

It’s not the for-profit schools that are the problem; it’s the state schools lack of motivation and understanding of how online education will better the lives of millions. The disservice is that of our state schools poor marketing, slow admissions and fear of investment.

The online for-profits gave you a model to follow and then MAKE BETTER. Do it already.


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