For-profit Schools Attract More Students as Recession Drags On

Tough economic times have more students attending private for-profit institutions teaching everything from auto repair to business administration, and now more of those students are borrowing money for that education.

A recent report from the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Schools Association shows an increase in students getting loans last year, with almost 90 percent of those at for-profit schools borrowing.

The report ranked private for-profit institutions along with public two- and four-year colleges and universities and private not-for-profit schools.

Stephanie Bellard Chase with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission says the increase in borrowing may be, in part, because of rising costs for student housing, books and other materials needed for school.

THEC coordinates programs and spending at the state’s two college systems, the University of Tennessee and the Board of Regents.

Claude Pressnell, president of the independent schools association, agrees with Chase.

"This recession obviously has been more severe than we have seen in the past. As a result, with the excessive loss of jobs, some families have found it more difficult to pay for college than in the past," said Pressnell.

Another major factor behind the growing number of students borrowing is increased enrollment, he added. People are going back to school to further their education while they weather the recession.

Last year, 73,000
students were enrolled nationwide at the institutions that range from mechanic shops to billion-dollar schools like University of Phoenix. Pressnell says he expects that number to be higher going into the fall semester.

"I think in a recession economy, typically families and students turn to higher education as a place to go while they’re waiting for the job market to turn around," said Pressnell.

"They invest in a higher education to get additional credentials so when the market turns around, they’re better equipped to get higher-paying jobs."

The private for-profit institutions have been under heavy scrutiny lately as THEC wrestles with ways to better monitor and track the schools’ job placement for students. (Tennessean)

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