Community Conversations

Are for-profit colleges worth the investment?

Miami

We asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently: Are for-profit colleges worth the investment? Thanks for all of your responses. Below are a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and read and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.

“I run a South Florida based college counseling business and I know there are bad and good for- profit colleges just like there are bad and good not-for-profit colleges. I’d love for the Herald to give equal coverage to the many horrible not -for - profit colleges in existence. I do not believe the “profit” status of the school should be the defining factor for students, but rather the quality of the education.”

Mandee Heller Adler, Hollywood

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“It’s difficult to generalize on such a broad subject, but I have seen a lot of people that were seduced by non-regionally accredited colleges, rushed through classes they couldn’t handle, and left with debt, no degree, and no better job prospects. There are a lot of things that could be done to improve this situation, from not charging the student if they don’t complete the course satisfactorily to not charging if they don’t qualify for the job that was advertised.”

Leann Barber Fort Lauderdale

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“My conclusion is that the jury is still out on whether for-profit colleges can be turned into institutions that can benefit the large segment of the population that cannot afford the time and/or the money to attend conventional brick and mortar colleges or if it’s just a way to get the promoter’s hands on the money made available by the student loan program.”

Arnold Slotkin, Hollywood

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“No, they are not a worthwhile investment. These colleges are too expensive, do not prepare their students for a good career, and in too many cases are not even accredited. These schools are all about making money and not about educating students.”

Theresa Lianzi, Hollywood

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“For the taxpayers, no. For the owners, yes, obviously. I think this system of private, for-profit colleges that operate under different standards and oversight than traditional schools is a spin off of the charter school mentality. The abuses of the federally supported student loan program are rampant and these should be ended. Period. Plus, the foxes should not be guarding the henhouse, in my opinion.”

David Burkart, Miami

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“I do not come across a for-profit college providing education that outperforms the state colleges in Florida. I do not believe it’s a good idea to fund for-profit colleges with taxpayer money, unless they outperform the public colleges.”

Satya Vedantam, Pembroke Pines

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“No, they are not worth any type of consideration or investment on the part of the public, because of their well-known track record of defrauding many students in the past. Unfortunately, they are being supported by the corrupt Florida legislature mostly on the GOP side to continue their criminal activities.”

Fred San Millan, Miami

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“It depends. The for-profit colleges need to be held to the same standards as not-for-profit schools. They need to be accredited by the same credentialing bodies. Students do not understand these issues and assume that these colleges meet the same standards and usually they do not come close. They should be required to post this in their advertisements and if a program, such as nursing, that requires passing a national certifying exam, they should have to post their passing rates. The board of nursing should have their authority reinstated by the legislature and should be overseeing all nursing programs. This has been a huge failure by the Florida legislatures.”

Susan Sonson, Miami Beach

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“It is not whether a school is for-profit or not. It is the quality of the education that counts. ... In a corporate school system, the monetary bottom line is the driving force and quality of the education can take a back seat to profit concerns. There is nothing wrong with profit, in fact, that is certainly a necessary element of success for a school. But if it is the primary driving force, then some decisions made for economic value may minimize or eliminate some of the parts of a program that made for the quality experience for the students. On the other hand a small private school is often run by an individual who has a passion for the subject/s being taught and a commitment to the outcome of each individual student. It can be more a personal experience.”

Iris Burman, Miami

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“It’s an absolute shame. ... especially since the recession left so many of our citizens desperate for finding a new (financial) leash on life. Has anyone tried to apply for any of the so-called student counselor or educator (read: recruiter!) positions at one of these places? I did! It became soon apparent that when applying honestly on their application forms and/or in person, that all they need is a rapid turnover of all applicants. Because, as soon as one finds out what the game is, the job suddenly dried up. i.e. better to keep constant supply of new applicants every six weeks or so ... lest they discover the real purpose of these ‘colleges.’”

Ina Topper, Tamarac

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“According to the historical record for for-profit colleges, the payoff to taxpayers who provide some of the funds for student loans seems minimal. There have been [a] number of studies of trade school colleges that operate like trade schools that show a very low graduation rate. Many of these colleges charge tuition far above public colleges. When students fail to complete their studies they are left in the lurch -- owing huge debts and without a marketable degree. In the meantime, the school itself has pocketed all the tuition. Are the schools worth this public investment? We’ll never be sure until enough resources are directed to answer that question. It would seem that every private college should be required to put up a yearly bond to ensure that that happens.”

Peter Martin, Coconut Creek

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