The Truth About For-Profit Schools

In some ways, it looks like proprietary schools are doing a better job educating Americans than community colleges. According to a recent report by the Parthenon Group, an international consulting firm specializing in business strategy:

Based on years of deep work with individual school operators, together with broader sector research and partnerships with industry investors, Parthenon has found that most private sector providers [i.e. for-profit schools] do a better job graduating students, deliver superior income gains, and do so at a societal cost comparable to public institutions. [Italics original.]

More specifically, Parthenon found that 2-year public schools have an average 44 percent graduation rate over in five years. But proprietary schools have a 65 percent graduation rate in the same period.

And, at least according to this study, the income gains are greater. The average income gain as a result of attending a proprietary school is $7900. The average income gain as a result of attending a community college was only $7300.

Interestingly, however, the average income gain still seems to be pretty low. The average community college graduate appears to earn about $27,600 a year after completing a program. The average proprietary school student, however, appears to earn a mere $22,500 after graduation. Considering the average student at a for-profit school also carries $15,000 worth of student loan debt, also according to the study, it’s not entirely clear the schools are on average really financially worth their cost.

Read the full report here.

UPDATE: Doug Lederman at Inside Higher Ed has a great summary of the Parthenon study here.

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