Pros And Cons Of For-Profit Education

When most high schoolers graduate and start looking for college admissions, they usually have a wide array of options to choose from. The decision usually boils down to traditional public universities or private non-profit institutions.

Each of these options has its pros and cons. So how do you know which option is right for you? Here are the pros and cons of for-profit education:

What makes a school or university for profit?

For-profit universities are set up to be controlled by an entity. The entity could be a single owner or a group of individuals. In some cases, for-profit schools are also owned by corporations. The whole point of a for-profit school as the name suggests is to generate profit.

Students pay for the services provided by the school just as they would pay for a service at any other business. The advantage of private for-profit ownership is that institutions are not tied down by stringent processes as the owners are fully in charge and call the shots.

Most for-profit colleges are often large, national chains that offer an array of courses and programs, from 2 to 4-year courses, either fully or partially online. For-profit institutions are typically funded by federal financial aid that’s paid by taxpayers. However, these schools charge tuition, a considerable portion of which is reinvested in the institution for an array of purposes including sales, advertising, and paying investors.

Advantages of for-profit education

For-profit schools offer flexibility

If you are looking for flexibility in your education, then for-profit colleges might be the top choice for you. Most if not all for-profit schools offer courses that can be taken online at any point. Some even offer a higher level of flexibility, thus allowing students to complete coursework without strict deadlines, meaning that students can take as much time as they need to complete a program.

This level of flexibility is typically required for students that are also working. This gives them wonderful opportunities to attend school while working part-time or when raising a family.

For-profit universities tend to be less selective

For-profit institutions usually have more open admission policies compared to traditional universities. That means that many have requirements that go beyond a high school degree, making them a lot easier to get into.

In comparison to for-profits, traditional colleges and universities are usually a lot harder to get admitted into. The admissions process in non-profit schools is more closed, which is detrimental to learners with lower grades or scores.

For-profit schools are more vocational and skill-based

A lot of for-profit institutions opt to forgo the board-based style of education that’s taught in traditional colleges and universities. Instead, for-profit schools concentrate on teaching specific trades or skills. This allows learners to only cover what they need so that they move quickly through profession-oriented programs that don’t require prerequisites or electives.

Skill-based or career-based training is especially popular in technical fields such as medical and dental assisting, culinary arts, industrial design, IT, computer science, and more.

More diversity

Because for-profit schools are less selective, they also tend to be more diverse in certain respects. That’s why the student body in for-profit schools is usually predominantly older, minority, and female students. For-profit schools are also more likely to enroll a higher number of low-income students or students from single-family households.

Disadvantages of for-profit schools

Problems with accreditation

While a lot of for-profit colleges claim to fast-track their students’ careers, this promise isn’t always delivered. The programs and types of certifications offered by for-profit schools vary greatly and some are more recognized than others. If students are not careful, they can end up paying hefty amounts for a low-quality education, which essentially makes them unemployable.


The sheer fact that for-profit schools are created to generate a profit means that they are costlier compared to traditional non-profit universities and schools. For instance, the cost of a 2-year degree at a for-profit college can run up to $35,000 while the same associate degree will have an average cost of $8,300 at a local community college.

That’s why students looking to enroll at a 4-year for-profit college are more likely to take out loans. It is also because this reason that student loan default rates are higher among for-profit college students compared to their counterparts.

Less dependable

There are many good reasons why students prefer to apply to well-known accredited schools such as Stanford. A degree from says an esteemed institution is more likely to open doors compared to a degree from a lesser-known for-profit institution. It is also true that some employers look down on degrees from for-profit schools based on the reputation of the institution alone.

Unlike other colleges and universities that are characterized by supportive services such as academic clubs, tutoring services, and mentoring from professors, for-profit universities haven’t always made it easy for students to receive the support they need to succeed. As a result, the rate of graduation tends to be considerably lower at for-profit universities compared to their peers in customary institutions.

Are for-profit institutions right for you?

Now that we’ve broken down the pros and cons of for-profit institutions, the big question remains whether they are the right fit for your needs. The answer? It all depends on your preference, budget, and various other circumstances.

For example, if you are a student that is having a difficult time gaining admission into more competitive traditional schools because of lower grades, test scores, or other circumstances, then a for-profit school may be a better fit for you. Similarly, if you find yourself stuck with schedule restrictions that will make it harder for you to attend a conventional school, then you could definitely benefit from the robust offerings and the flexible schedule supplied by for-profit schools.

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