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For-Profit Colleges Filling A Niche

Compiled By CityTownInfo.com Staff
December 23, 2009

Some officials are recognizing that private, for-profit institutions serve as viable alternatives to state and community colleges.

MSNBC reports that Michael J. Wilson, director of the organization Americans for Democratic Action, said yesterday during a press conference that for-profit colleges are important to first-time and returning college students and shouldn't be overlooked. "We don't believe we can use the same narrow bands of universities that we traditionally use, and we believe we need to use every arrow in our quiver," said Wilson, who was quoted by MSNBC.

Wilson also noted that for-profit institutions don't rely on taxpayers as state and community colleges do. "These schools provide increased access and more flexibility for adults," he said. "They are not taking tax money to pay for themselves, but are paying back taxes."

Meanwhile, Ohio's Columbus Business First reports that the National Association of Governors issued a report which urged community colleges to model some of their programs after private career colleges. "Private two-year colleges have much higher graduation rates than public two-year colleges, even though they enroll similar students," said the report, entitled Increasing College Success: A Road Map for Governors. "The private colleges recognize they have nontraditional students who need different types of support. . . . Colleges that spend more money on supporting students generally have higher rates of degree attainment."

The Vallejo Times-Herald in California reports that private institutions are also becoming essential for students who are being turned away from community colleges due to a lack of space and limited funding.

"We're seeing about a 10 percent increase in people coming back because they couldn't get classes they needed in community colleges," said Bob Eoff, vice president of University of Phoenix in Northern California, who was quoted by the Times-Herald. "A lot of times [students] are looking to transfer, but some are just not having the luck of getting into state schools."

According to Jerry Slavonia, chief executive for the higher education watchdog group and online service provider Campus Explorer, other private schools such as Kaplan University are also seeing increased enrollment. "In the past, people have really counted on the community college system to provide an affordable way to go to college," he explained to the Times-Herald. "Right now most community colleges are overcrowded and turning students away."

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