For-profit colleges receiving a disproportionate share of Pell Grant revenue

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by ilovepaydays, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. ilovepaydays

    ilovepaydays Well-Known Member

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    Huffington Post - Pell Grants And For-Profit Colleges: Where The Money Goes

    :eek: at how much the University of Phoenix is getting. They are like a defense contractor!

    These amounts don't count what the students are taking out in federal student loans to go to these schools. Who knows how much is that is!

    On PBS, Frontline did an episode this year on for-profit colleges and I heard many people say it is very good and :wideeyes:. I have it saved on my Netflix.

    There are a lot of Strayer U campuses around my area and I have worked with people who are getting degrees there. Nice folks, but I get the feeling that they are going to a diploma mill. Plus the tuition is so much than what people here pay to go to state universities like William & Mary and Old Dominion and I am not sure what they are getting for the extra costs. I also noticed that because Strayer makes them purchase their "specialty" textbooks - and they are a lot more then what I pay for my books for ODU. Not that college textbooks are inexpensive, anyway.

    Thoughts?
  2. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

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    I saw a University of Phoenix (store? admissions office?) at a mall. I just stared and then felt really sad that I didn't have a camera. It was between a Victoria's Secret and a Bath and Body Works.
  3. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    U of P gets so much in Pell Grants, in part, because they are one of the largest universities in the US. They have a LOT of students. But it's also because of the particular type of student that these sorts of colleges tend to attract.

    The reason why these for-profit colleges get so many students with Pell Grants is because these for-profit colleges attract a higher percentage of students who are coming from neighborhoods/families where they are the first person to go to college; where they are low-income, and thus qualify for Pell Grants; where perhaps they don't know any better than to go to a heavily advertised, well marketed school - and that tends to be the for-profits.

    As for what's attractive about a Strayer or a U of P - first, the majority of students are adults, not typical college age students. A lot of adults, considering college, are afraid that they'll feel out of place at a traditional college. I do a lot of explaining that - especially in evening programs, and especially at community colleges - the majority of students are older, so they won't feel out of place. But most adult students don't know that, so many are attracted to these more adult-oriented universities.

    Second, a lot of these for-profit schools offer classes on an accelerated schedule. You complete one class every 5-9 weeks, rather than the 13-16 required by a traditional college, so you get your degree faster. That's attractive to adult students.

    Third, these colleges make a real effort to work with you and get you enrolled. While at a traditional uni, you have to work to get in - and at many, you may not get in - at a Strayer, they will try hard to get you enrolled. They make it very personal, and very easy to get started.

    Fourth, a lot of these for-profit schools offer extensive online programs, and these are attractive to busy working adults. Some of my students in my online classes only have time to do their classwork at 11pm, after the kids and the husband are in bed; or they travel for work, so they can't commit to a set class time. A regular, on campus program won't work for folks like this. While a lot of traditional universities offer online degrees, they aren't as heavily advertised as those at the for-profits; they can be harder to find out about. You google something like "online degree", and all you get, first three pages of results, are the for-profit schools.

    And finally, the marketing is good, and targeted toward these groups - and these colleges can afford to market in ways that traditional colleges cannot.

    As for the textbooks - even at traditional universities, a lot of the texts now are customized to the needs of that university. They create special, for example, U of Phoenix editions of the books. Custom texts tend to be more expensive than regular texts. But again, this isn't something special to U of P or Strayer or etc. - regular unis use custom texts as well.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  4. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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  5. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    And about time too.
  6. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    I expect it's going to make a huge difference. I just feel so bad for some of the people who go to such schools. The loans, IMO, are way too much v. the benefits of such a degree. I'm especially interested in how this will impact culinary schools, which are notorious for having an extremely high cost/high loans v. the actual salaries that most people make out of culinary school - and thus having an extremely high loan default rate.
  7. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I used to use a textbook that contained a lot of essays about malls as cultural icons, and that was something that was predicted in more than one of the essays--that colleges would start offering classes in malls.

    A lot of tech schools have offices and classrooms in strip malls, so it's not much of a stretch to see them moving into malls themselves (although the expense would be a consideration). I can see community colleges doing it as well, as most CCs offer off campus classes in places like community centers (although again, expense would be a big factor).

    There is a lot of talk in the academic community about the future of traditional brick and mortar campuses, and many believe only a handful of campuses (primarily the venerable and distinguished) will be around in a few decades. The trend in higher education appears to be going to flexibility in all things--scheduling, formats, delivery platforms, etc. That does not bode well for traditional classrooms.

    So yeah, you just may see more campus offices in malls in the future. Or not. Who knows? A lot of people still prefer to learn in traditional environments.

    One of the grammar schools in my district just hired a new principal who earned all her degrees through UoP. This is not her first job, either; she previously worked in much bigger districts in Arizona and California. Getting a UoP degree is not always a waste; it depends on your field. But you have to be very well informed about your career path requirements before you start down that road.
  8. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    I have mixed feelings. Those colleges are very good at pushing the marketing buttons of a vulnerable population, which IMHO is reason enough to crack down on them. That's about 95% of my feelings. The other 5% is that students who are going to lay out that sort of $$$ should maybe do more extensive research before enrolling. Having said that, though, I do recognize (and sympathize) that there are lots of barriers and attitudes making that difficult or impossible.
  9. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    The thing for me is that most of those students, in my experience, don't even know enough to know they need to ask the questions. They don't even know that it could be an issue. They don't realize that there's a difference between a U of P (or Strayer, Walden, Kaplan, Devry, ITT...) degree and one from their local state college. If anything, they think that because U of P is private, it must be better.
  10. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    There are a handful of for-profit colleges that existed BEFORE THE INTERNET that did make it possible for working adults to get a bachelors degree in the after-hours of a normal work day that did a lot of good since Jr and Community Colleges could not fill this need, and they were for-profit because they could be since they were offering a premium product of accredited AFTER-HOURS UPPER DIVISION CLASSROOM COURSEWORK. To me, these somewhat older institutions are entirely different than Multiple Choice Online BA Degree Mills.

    I also do think that Technical Institutes are an entirely different thing, but do meet a real need for technical (vocational) training that does not fit into an academically accredited institution but also is in a technical field that is not supported by a trade union, such as the high tech industry. The only other places to get training for high tech jobs is college engineering schools and the military, and the demand in the civilian labor market for technical training only employees could not be filled by the military because of the exponential growth of high tech and the shrinking of the military.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  11. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    There are proprietary schools that are completely reputable and respected by employers and other schools. Examples include Digipen, School of Visual Arts, and SCAD. Digipen and SVA are actually elite level schools in their fields, and they are also for-profit institutions. That's why I hate to paint all for-profits with one brush. Just because a school is proprietary, that doesn't mean it's disreputable.


    You indicate that the institutions formed before the age of the Internet are better or different than some of the schools we've been discussing here, and perhaps that's true for some, but most of the schools that are famous today as what I might call "worrysome" proprietary institutions began back in those days. Strayer, for example, began in 1892.

    The older schools get bought by companies like Education Management Corp, expanded, changed - and not usually in good ways. So I think one should have caution with the older schools as well. They aren't necessarily the same as they were, back in the day.

    They had a valuable purpose, originally, as you said - they provided an education for adults when other colleges did not serve that market; and they often provided career-focused education when other colleges did not. That's valuable, even today. I still think there's a place for that. And there still are reputable proprietary schools. They get overshadowed by the big guys, though.
  12. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    A local proprietary medical imaging school grad is experiencing that right now. She wants to enter the professional level of our program, but the University will not accept any of her radiography coursework. I was surprised because I thought they (her school) was routing their students through the local community college for an AAS degree the same as we did, but apparently not. If she'd done that, the coursework would have transferred. Moreover, the reputation of the program is keeping her from getting a job. She was hoping to get an advanced certification and coursework through us, but I'm not certain she's going to be able to do it.
  13. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    It's a long complicated story, but, essentially, the private liberal arts college in the town I live in just shut down after a failed attempt to avoid bankruptcy by allowing a for-profit group to buy them out.

    The Higher Education Commission is cracking down on those sorts of buyouts as they are wary of "accreditation shopping".
  14. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I feel terrible for students like these. I get some every now and then who are having to start all over from scratch because their degrees are useless, and it's got to be one of the most frustrating things ever to have to deal with.

    I think that kids and their parents ought to learn about accreditation and what it all means in high school; so many are clueless about such things, and if no one ever lets them know that such a thing exists, they never know that they need to ask about it.

    And some of these schools LIE, LIE, LIE to students. Not all of them; in fact, one local proprietary school now has a legible warning right in their commercials that credits earned there might not transfer to other schools. But a lot of them LIE.
  15. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    This school did indeed lie to their students. She's been communicating with me because she thought the University was just being difficult. I asked her why she hadn't got the CTC credits and she started telling me about how her school had got *accredited* and blah, blah, blah. I had to explain to her what all she'd been told really meant and what really happened.

    We're hoping this program will close with the downturn in health care jobs in the area and we'll be the only program left. :D
  16. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Or are, shall we say, "economical with the truth". As in saying that their courses are eligible for transfer to other schools/programs. Which is true in that most schools will *look* at requests for transfer from many sources. But not true in that there are some schools where the request will pretty much be automatically declined just because of the school the course was taken it.
  17. lash

    lash New Member

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  18. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

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    How is it that UoP is accredited? I really never understood that.
  19. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    Are you asking how schools get accreditation in general or how UoP gets it?

    UoP gets accredited the same way everyone else does; it applies, there is a review and, if standards are met, accreditation is granted.

    UoP has regional accreditation, which is the most basic level of accreditation you want to see in a college. No matter what people may read on the internet, national accreditation is NOT just as good or better.

    What UoP doesn't have is a lot of program accreditation, which is much harder to get and much more desirable in terms of a school's reputation and credibility. They do have some program accreditation, though.

    I really don't know anything about the quality of UoP curriculum, so I can't say anything about that, but I will say that I think a lot of the negative image UoP has comes from things other than strict academics--aggressive recruiting, very poor graduation rates, mostly part-time faculty and a refusal to report student success or lack thereof have all contributed a lot. UoP also had an established bad reputation before other schools started offering online classes, which hasn't helped.

    But I don't know anything at all about the courses they offer. I would, however, think that they were about on par with a lot of lower level brick and mortar schools.

    An interesting article about UoP and, to some extent, for-profit schools: http://reason.com/archives/2008/07/03/education-for-profit
  20. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    One thing that I do think U of P does well is student writing, in terms of really helping students learn to write better than when they enter, and in incorporating the mechanics and content of writing throughout their curriculum. I've found student writing out of U of P to be, on average, much better than the student writing I've seen out of lower level brick and mortar colleges.

    As for the quality of the courses - IMO, they're on par with classes offered at other lower-tier colleges. Some are actually better, but it really varies by instructor.

    I also think that part of what goes into U of P's rep, in addition to what Prancer noted, is that they are, at least academically, open admissions. So long as you're a working adult, you will get in. That means that some students come in ill-prepared for college work. In general, I think that any school that's open admissions tends to get a not-so-great rep, just by being open admissions.
  21. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    :eek: Well, then, I would hate to see that writing from the lower level brick and mortar colleges. Because I have had the exact opposite experience with former U of P students.
  22. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    Oooh, is this writing they show you that they've done at UoP, or is this stuff they write afterward?

    Because I do know something about UoP and writing, and if you are talking about things they've written for class there, I wouldn't count it :shuffle:

    Yes, I think community colleges and state universities (to some degree) get a bad rap for the same reason. And any school that has open admissions AND any kind of academic standard is going to have a low student success rate, which is going to affect the school's reputation and ranking.
  23. DickButtonFan

    DickButtonFan New Member

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    I knew someone that went to u o p and saw their class... it was a message board where they just wrote a paragraph for their assignments, really basic type questions. I know not all classes are prob like that but still I thought it was ridiculous.
  24. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

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    My university that I attended for undergrad was atop a mountain, which was a @&HS!@ to get to everyday. My university expanded after I graduated. They now have a campus in a suburban mall and I would've LOVED to attend. The food's better, it's easier to get to, easier to find parking, and the food's better.
    bardtoob and (deleted member) like this.
  25. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, pretty sure I know the university you are talking about. In BC, right? My husband and I almost interviewed for faculty jobs there a few years ago, but we weren't crazy about the whole multiple campus / mall aspect, so we declined. :shuffle:
  26. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    You would hate to see the student writing at lower level brick and mortar colleges. It's torture.
  27. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    Most U of P classes require students to:

    1) post a paragraph in response to two discussion questions per week, 200 words or more

    2) post at least two paragraphs per day, for 4/5 out of 7 days, in response to other student or the teacher's posts - 100 words or more each response

    3) write at least one 1500-2500 individual short paper per week

    4) compose, with their team, a 2500+ word group paper each week

    5) final exam, 1-3 hours

    6) final group project, which can be 15,000 words or more.

    The workload isn't small. I think that the paragraph you saw the student write was likely a short, 100 word response to what another student had posted.

    In the lower level classes, the questions are pretty basic, I'm thinking. In the upper division classes, they tend to be more meaty. But no, it's not Harvard.
  28. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    Busted.
  29. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Kaplan is notoriously mercenary. I'm guessing that this campus also had financial performance problems. Because Kaplan would have to shut down a whole lot more campuses than this one if lying were the only issue.
  30. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I figure that one and the one other one they shut down were just the ones the federal investigators hit. They went into only 15 schools altogether, and they found problems at five schools--the other three weren't Kaplan.
  31. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    The article says that they found some level of high pressure or questionable sales tactics at every school they visited, but these five were doing things that were blatantly illegal.

  32. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    Oh, if the local proprietary was shut down, I would laugh and laugh and laugh. Well, if one of their programs were shut down. I don't care about the others. I'm going to smile for a while just imaging that they were. :D
  33. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I assume that their rad students can take state boards? Do you know what their success rate is?

    There's a proposal in Ohio to tighten strictures on for-profits in several ways and in reading about that, I learned that there are more than a dozen for-profit schools in my metro area :eek:. I knew about some of them, but not that many. One of my friends teaches at one that has a nursing program, and their success rate is on state boards was something like 13% last year. I think schools should be required to tell student applicants things like that up front, before the students sign on. But of course, that's not one of the things that is proposed.
  34. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    What is being proposed?
  35. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    Their national board pass rate is around 75%. I think. The first year was 50%. It has to be at least 75 to retain program accreditation. What's going to be an issue for them is an upcoming requirement for students to have a minimum of an associates degree prior to sitting for the Board. My understanding was that all their students were getting that through a local community college (which is actually in a different state as the for-profit is actually in your state), but apparently not all students are. We have one of their grads trying to enter our BS program and none of her rad tech credit will transfer since she didn't get the credit through the CTC as well has the non-profit. My program's students have done that since 1994.

    Apart from the pass rate, their biggest lies have to do with job availability. Local employers won't hire their grads anymore because their clinical skills are horrible. Jobs are scarce as it is and our students will get them first. Their tuition is much higher. Students can attend all four years of our program, pass the boards, graduate with a BS degree and have advanced coursework toward advanced boards for less money than they get at the for profit's two years, no degree and a 50-50 chance of passing the board.

    Our website gives a link to our program accreditation body so an applicant can see for themselves what our accreditation is. We also tell them our pass rate. We're quite proud of the fact it's been 100% for the past 8 years and the average score exceeds the national mean by 8-10 points. But, hardly any applicants have a clue about accreditation, board scores, or quality of a program. My students are trained to ask if they apply to any advanced program. Some have avoided costly mistakes because we make them aware of the importance. High school and even college advisor's are clueless about letting students know the importance of asking about the simplest of questions before spending thousands and thousands of dollars.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2010
  36. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    Yes, my friend's school has accreditation pending. Everyone but her seems to think they will get it. She's been through three accreditation processes at other schools and she is sending out resumes on the sly.

    That's great that you do that for them. I'm an adviser for students in an at-risk program (which is going to be the death of me) and I try to talk to them about accreditation and transfer problems, but I mostly get cows-in-the-field stares. It really is difficult to understand such things if you haven't been out in the working world, I think.

    Several things have been discussed, but the big issue is requiring schools to openly state accreditation status:

    http://www.daytondailynews.com/news...on-sought-at-for-profit-colleges--821839.html

    That Miami-Jacobs thing is a mess. There's a lot more to it than just that one case.

    There are a lot of for-profit schools in Ohio, many of them with a decent track record, and graduating from one won't necessarily or even probably kill your job prospects, but it's a real case of caveat emptor and the emptors need to be better informed: http://columbus.bizjournals.com/columbus/stories/2010/07/05/story3.html
  37. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    I wonder how much good that would do though.

    If a school has some sort of accreditation, it's very hard for a student to know the real value of that accreditation, and it wouldn't really tell a student if that is the accreditation needed for their field.
  38. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    Agreed. And maybe it's just that I can't explain it well, but when I talk about this with students, they don't seem to think that it's important. One of my nieces just enrolled in Kaplan, and nothing I said made an impression. I think she just dismisses it all as my personal bias against Kaplan, and the students I advise all seem to take it the same way. I'm telling them one thing, the for-profit is telling them something else, and they don't know who to believe. Most of them really aren't interested enough to investigate for themselves.

    I do think the for-profit schools have a point about requiring all colleges, not just no for-profits, to release their job placement rate. College is being pushed very hard as job training and that's what a lot of people expect. I think it's only fair to let them know the odds of having their investment pay off IF that's why they are enrolling in school.
  39. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    One of the big problems with radiology programs in the for profit programs, is that they take students who wouldn't get in in other programs. Then the program really waters down the content and pads grades to keep them in the program (and collect financial aid). This in turn leads to the low pass rate on the Boards and the poor reputation for clinical skills. Our rejects or students who heard how difficult our program was were the the students who showed up in the for profit's programs.

    I was offered a job with a for profit that I turned down. They were accepting two classes a year in a market that couldn't possibly accommodate that amount of graduates. Which meant, most were not passing the board. I knew the philosophical differences wouldn't work. :lol:

    As for accreditation, in medical imaging, you cannot sit for the national Board if the program is not accredited by JRCERT or ARDMS (in the case of sonography). Unfortunatly, some students don't find that out until they've spent their money, although the information is very clear on the ARRT web site. However, most of them entering the profession don't have a clue what the ARRT is or what its importance will be. We also put that information on our web page along with their web site.
  40. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Pink Bitch

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    The hospital where my mom works stopped accepting Kaplan students for precepting and other positions. The students were completely unprepared.