Study Finds Mixed Results for Students Attending For-Profit Colleges

For-profit colleges educate a disproportionate share of minority, disadvantaged, and older students, and are more successful at retaining students in their first year and graduating them from short-term programs than are public or private nonprofit colleges, according to a recent study by a trio of Harvard University economists.

However, the study, which was cited in a recent government report on student success, also found that students who attend for-profit colleges are less likely to be employed than comparable students from nonprofit institutions, and tend to have lower earnings six years after enrolling. They also carry heavier debt burdens and are more likely to default on their loans.

The study relied on data from the Education Department's Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, which followed a sample of first-time students who began their higher education in 2003-4, from their enrollment through 2009.


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