Imagine America Foundation Research Shows For-Profit Schools Play a Vital Role in Higher Education

Washington, D.C. (March 7, 2011) — With the career education sector once again about to take center stage on Capitol Hill, the Imagine America Foundation has released its annual Fact Book, which presents some compelling research that provides a picture of the nation’s career colleges and how the labor force is impacted by its graduates.

The Imagine America Foundation’s Fact Book 2011: A Profile of Career Colleges and Universities compares private for-profit, or career colleges, with public and not-for-profit two- and four-year colleges, and features more than 40 pages of research and analysis. The research compiled by JBL Associates, Inc. includes data from the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other publications that present a statistical analysis of the for-profit sector and its students.

The information provided is defined by areas of interests such as, enrollment figures, student benefits and outcomes, student profiles, return on investment statistics and job opportunities for graduates. The terminology included in the Fact Book is also clearly explained to help readers further understand the for-profit sector. 

“The research shows career colleges play a significant role in higher education by serving a diverse student population,” said Robert L. Martin, President of the Imagine America Foundation.  Career college students are more likely to be older than 25, first-generation college students, married and financially independent.

While questions about the value of career education has permeated media reports and Senate hearing testimony, the Fact Book shows that career colleges make a tremendous difference in the lives of its graduates, especially those who are minority or female:

  • Fifty-eight percent of all Hispanic students and half of all African-American students who received certificates in 2008-09 earned them at a career college.
  • Forty-seven percent of all female students and 29 percent of all male students who received certificates in 2008-09 earned them at a career college.
  • Twenty-seven percent of all African-American students and 20 percent of all Hispanic students who received Associate degrees in 2008-09 earned them at a career college.

The numbers are just as inspiring on the job front as graduates from career colleges face increased opportunities for employment particularly in the health, technology and business fields.

  • One-fourth of career college students are enrolled in high-growth compared with public (18 percent) and private, not-for-profit (13 percent) institutions.
  • Career colleges awarded 44% of all Associate degrees in biomedical/mechanical/electronic engineering; 63% of all computer/technology degrees; 52% of all financial/accounting degrees; and 91% of all skin care/aesthetician degrees in 2008-09.

The Fact Book also explores the return on investment for taxpayer dollars that fund an education for some students. According to the research, career college students repay the public cost of their education within five years after graduation and provide an 18 percent annual net return on investment for each public tax dollar spent. Career colleges have an annual net cost to taxpayers of $183 per student, compared with $13,249 per public postsecondary student and $16,669 per private, not-for-profit student.

These are a few of the most compelling facts in the Imagine America Foundation’s 2011 Fact Book. For more information about the Foundation’s Fact Book or to request copies, please contact the Foundation at or 202.336.6800.

About the Imagine America Foundation
The Imagine America Foundation (IAF), established in 1982, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing scholarships for education, research and training support for the career college sector. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided over $50 million in scholarship and award support for graduating high school seniors, adult learners and U.S. military personnel attending career colleges nationwide through its award-winning Imagine America® programs. The Foundation also publishes vital research publications for the higher education sector, honors achievement in career education and offers faculty development training. For more information about the Imagine America Foundation’s programs, please visit

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