Are For-Profit Schools “The Answer” — Sherry Linkon

Education or Exploitation? For-profit schools and working-class students

If you read yesterday’s New York Times, you may have noticed the full-page ad, paid for by Corinthian Colleges, Inc., one of the largest for-profit education providers in the US.  The ad urged readers to contact our Congressional representatives to “put the brakes on” proposed regulations that link educational programs’ eligibility for federal financial aid with the post-graduation income and debt repayment of students.  The ad suggests that proposed new rules would lead to the loss of thousands of jobs and limit college access for low-income and minority students.

Responding to the proposed rules, Harry C. Alford, CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, argues that the Department of Education was “singling out one vitally important segment of the post-secondary landscape and putting up ‘no trespassing’ signs, keeping out the students who would benefit the most.”  While this rhetoric is appealing, the question of whether for-profit schools – which Alford describes as “career colleges” – serve the best interests of working-class students is not simple.

For-profit schools have thrived for several reasons.  First, they offer an alternative to traditional college programs.  States have cut funding to higher education, and in some cases – California   most dramatically – have limited enrollment.  Meanwhile, the most common advice given to those who are out of work is “get a college education.” So it’s no surprise that enrollments are up across the country.  For-profit programs provide alternatives to students who can’t get in to crowded colleges or programs with limited enrollments.  Read more here.


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