The recent release of testimony from lawsuits against Trump U. has reopened the conversation about for profit colleges. But did you know that women are more likely to be victims of the deceptive practices some of these colleges use than men.
A few years back for profit colleges wound up on the radar screens of Congress and government regulators largely because of the huge amount of taxpayer dollars being paid to them in government student loans, the number of student complaints, and the number of defaults in repaying those loans. After investigating it turned out that many were engaging in deceptive high pressure sales tactics (such as promising post-graduation jobs and salaries they were not delivering), predatory recruitment (such as targeting elderly and low income students), charging big price tag tuition, and encouraging students to take on debt they could not afford. And more often than not, those students don’t even graduate. For example;
- For profit college students tend to pay more: Average tuition at a for profit college is $14,737, verses $2,959 at a two-year public college and $8,256 at a four-year state school.
- More students at for profit colleges go into debt: The majority of students attending for profit colleges, about 98.5%, take out loans to do so. In comparison to about 13% in two-year public colleges and about 43% in four-year public colleges.
- More for profit college students default on the loans: Only about 13% of students with government loans attend for profit colleges, but student loan defaults from for profit colleges accounts for about 50% of all defaults. The likelihood of a student defaulting at a for-profit college is nearly four times higher than at a community college and more than three times higher than at a four-year public or nonprofit college.
- Graduates tend to earn less: The thing is, some studies show that folks with vocational certificates may earn an average of $900 less after attending a for profit school than before. While students earning the same certification at a public community college tend to earn an average of $1,500 more than before attending. Because for profit college students also rack up more student loan debt, they’re hit with a double whammy.
- But the biggest problem, is that only 22% of full-time students seeking a Bachelor's degree graduate at for profit colleges actually graduate (the numbers even less for part-time students), compared to 55% at public institutions and 65% at private nonprofits.
Trump U. opened 2005 and closed in 2010 and has been plagued by issues similar with some other for profit colleges. There have been complaints and investigations connected to Trump U., including to Attorney Generals in Florida, Texas, New York, and Illinois. And then there’s the current lawsuit in California. The testimony just released reveals allegations and, some would argue, evidence, of similar problems including high pressure sales tactics including company procedure designed to get students to borrow and max out credit cards (what the Trump U. training guide in evidence refers to as “OPM” aka “other people's money”) and deceiving students by saying that Donald Trump was actually involved in the education and selecting teachers when he was not.
Women tend to make up the majority of students attending for profit colleges. 63% of for profit students are women, compared with 57% in two-year community colleges and 55% in public four-year schools. And, by 2025, women enrollment is projected to increase by 17%, compared to male enrollment which is projected to increase by only 11% percent.
So, in a nutshell, women stand to lose more and need to be all the more vigilant is they’re thinking about a for profit college. Not all for profit colleges are bad. In fact many offer convenience and flexibility that’s needed in order for some women to even be able to get a degree. Some of the more popular studies include nursing, auto repair, and cosmetology. The good ones can be credited for changing the entire face of old fashioned college education. But the statistics prove that you do need to be careful.
Since about $30 billion in taxpayer money goes to for profit colleges in the form of government student loans each year, new (2014) Federal “Gainful Employment Rules” require schools to maintain at least a 35% student loan repayment rate and limit the amount of debt students can take out for career training programs. But it’s still up to you to protect yourself. Fortunately, there are some red flags you can look for. For example, don’t accept verbal assurances and guarantees including about how many graduates find jobs and how much they’re paid. Ask to see everything in writing. And some questions you can ask. For example, make sure that you understand all costs that will be involved and take time to compare costs with other educational options. You can normally do this fairly easily on-line. Don’t forget to factor in graduation rates and how long it takes most students to graduate, which both impact cost. Student loan default rates will also shed light on how well a school’s graduates fair, since default rates may stem from the combination of high loan balances and difficulty finding employment. The CFPB offers a great worksheet as part of a “know before you owe” initiative they did at consumerfinance.gov.