Over $1 billion in Pell Grants Goes to For-Profit Colleges

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According to an Associated Press article, for-profit colleges are making a killing off of federal financial aid:

Last year, the five institutions that received the most federal Pell Grant dollars were all for-profit colleges, collecting over $1 billion among them. That was two and a half times what those schools hauled in just two years prior, the AP found, analyzing Department of Education data on disbursements from the Pell program, Washington’s main form of college aid to the poor.

This is not terribly surprising, since for a variety of reasons—access, affordability, admissions standards—low income students tend to attend for-profit schools. During the financial first quarter after the federal government increased the maximum Pell Grant last year, about 67 percent of that new money went to for-profit schools. But many suspect that for-profit schools deliberately enroll unqualified students to take advantage of federal money. Critics complain that for-profit schools simply treat Washington as a cash cow, not providing their many students with the wherewithal to actually complete college.

The average for-profit school is more than five times the price of community college. The median graduation rate at for-profit schools is just 38 percent.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer