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How to Avoid For-Profit College Scams

Alicia Robinson


How to Avoid For-Profit College Scams

You have probably heard stories in the news about the crippling debt that students who are graduating from college are now dealing with. For some people, this news is troubling. You may want to go back school to pursue a more rewarding career, but the fear of falling victim to a mountain of college debt might be holding you back. Consider this information that can help you avoid for-profit college scams and still get the education you need.

The Problem with some Non-Profit Schools

Many prospective or continuing students out there don’t realize that private non-profit colleges are not as victimless as you may think. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education (referenced by Anthony Picciano), nine private nonprofit colleges and one public college made the list out of 20 Universities Responsible for 20 Percent of Graduate Student Debt! - See more at: CUNY. The University of Phoenix, University of Southern California, and Rutgers University were among those mentioned. The problem with some nonprofit colleges is that they turn out just as much student debt as some proprietary schools. As many advisors have recognized, an important consideration should be made regarding the quality and value of the degree earned versus the debt incurred to obtain such a degree.

The Problem with Some Proprietary Schools

Some for-profit schools prey on the unemployed who are desperate to get back into the workforce. Some use high-pressure recruitment tactics with enrollment counselors whose sole purpose is to meet their quota of students, get them in the door, and grab their student loan money for the school. Often, students from expensive for-profit schools find that, once they complete their studies, they are unable to get a job. Then, to add insult to injury, they need to begin paying back the thousands of dollars they borrowed for a worthless degree or certificate. It is important to identify and avoid any college that does not offer transparency by displaying their pass rates and job placement rates post-graduation.

Is a Proprietary school right for you?

Determining whether a For-profit college program is right for you weighs heavily on the type of certificate, degree or diploma you will obtain and what that certificate, degree or diploma is worth. You will first need to determine whether the program you chose will have any effect on the value of the certification. For example, a licensed vocational nurse will be required to pass the NCLEX before seeking work within the healthcare industry. Regardless of what program a nursing student chooses to complete coursework at, the very same test must be passed for a license to be issued. No one particular school or program will change the value of the certificate, but it will be crucial to any student's success that they take the time to consider and select an accredited program that suits their budget, schedule, location, etc. Some students may find that it’s well worth the additional cost to complete their training in a particular setting or time frame.

What You Need to Know

When looking for a vocational program, be careful to conduct thorough research on the school you are interested in attending. Check out their accreditation and performance with the state Department of Consumer Affairs. Insist on seeing the school’s annual report, as required under the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009, to view their:

  • Job placement rates

  • Program completion rates

  • Licensing exam passing rates

  • Salary and wage information

Take time to review and consider the projected annual salary for the position you’re interested in training for. You may want to check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics when selecting a realistic and valuable vocation. Take time to research multiple schools and compare the cost, pass, and placement rates in context. Proprietary schools are not for everyone, but can be exceptionally helpful for the right student who is interested in the right program.


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