Enrollment Growth Slows at For-Profit Colleges

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Goldie Blumenstyk has an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education looking at the future of for-profit schools. They probably won’t suffer that much, but they’ll still suffer. Part of this has to do with coming federal regulations, not to mention legal investigations, but part of this may be related to the fact that there’s only so fast a company can grow. As Blumenstyk writes:

After several years of record enrollment growth, the increases have slowed at many for-profit institutions, according to earnings reports of the last few weeks. Many companies say they’re expecting that trend to continue as they change course on their marketing and recruiting strategies to comply with new federal regulations.

“The unrestrained growth is coming to an end,” says Kevin Kinser, senior researcher at the Institute for Global Education Policy Studies at the University at Albany who studies the for-profit education industry.

While they’re still making money, they’re not enrolling as many students. Or, at any rate, they’re not enrolling as many new students every year.

Corinthian Colleges Inc. is expecting a 5 percent decline in the number of new students it expects to enroll. ITT reported a 3.9 percent decline. Strayer had a 2 percent decline. Most surprisingly, the University of Phoenix said it had a 10 percent decline in the last quarter.

Like regular colleges, for-profit schools are taking novel steps to try and increase enrollment. There’s Kaplan University’s plan to let students enroll for a few weeks without paying tuition. Phoenix is now offering a free orientation session.

It’s not like any of these companies are likely to go out of business soon. But business isn’t booming anymore. [Image via]

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