Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

For-Profits in the News Again


Daniel Bennett of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity reports that the Department of Education wants Congress to ban incentive compensation for recruiting students, a plan that would weigh heavily against for-profit colleges. The argument is that such compensation rewards overly aggressive recruitment of students, especially those who may not be able to complete the full program.

The timing is ironic since a former dean at SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill has just charged this state school with  lowering admission and retention standards in order to keep revenues coming to the school. You don’t have to be a for-profit to bring in unqualified students.

I find myself from time to time defending for-profit schools, even though — like their many critics — I hate the fact that they depend so heavily on federal funds. But the fact is, they are run by entrepreneurs who have found an under-served market of working adults, often low-income people eschewed by traditional colleges. Federal funds are the vehicle for those adults to become customers.

Federal funds shouldn’t be used to send unqualified students to any college, for-profit or not, but the problem lies, fundamentally, with the ready availability of federal aid. I’m still trying to figure out how to address that problem.

By the way, I made an error in a recent fevered response to an AP article on for-profits. The author, Justin Pope, did report that about 10 percent of all students are enrolled in for-profit schools. I erroneously said that he didn’t.


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