Domestic, For-Profit, Legislation, Required - Written by on Thursday, August 4, 2011 13:22 - 0 Comments

How Minorities Add Latest Twist in the For-Profit Education Debate

photo: flickr user stevendepolo

by Elbert Chu


As though the for-profit school debate was not messy enough already (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), one issue that has not really been hashed out is the higher percentage of minorities attracted to for-profit schools. The Huffington Post’s Chris Kirkham has an excellent recap of the often conflicting perspectives of minority advocates:

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post earlier this year that argued, “Career colleges are different only in that they are the schools of choice for many at-risk students, including minorities, parents and full-time workers who believe these schools offer them the best shot at a good job in a field they will enjoy.”

He implored the Obama administration to delay implementation of the regulations. “The last thing that students already constrained by poverty need is another, government-erected barrier to a better life,” he wrote.

Less than a month later, Benjamin Todd Jealous of the NAACP and Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund co-authored an op-ed in USA Today arguing exactly the opposite point.

“Some advocates, noting that minority students make up a large segment of for-profit college students, claim that the new rule will narrow educational choices for low-income people and people of color,” they wrote. “This claim misses the mark. It’s like arguing that because mortgage lenders targeted minorities with their most exploitative products and practices, we should not have stopped them.”

Kirkham describes the current situation which attracts so many minorities to pursue their higher education through the for-profit institutions and the resulting debt burden:

Although minority students are enrolled at much higher rates in the for-profit college sector, critics have questioned whether programs are adequately educating students. Graduation rates for black and Hispanic students seeking bachelor’s degrees in the for-profit sector are significantly lower than those of minority students who attended public universities –- hovering at 16 percent for black students and 28 percent for Hispanic students.

The likelihood of debt is also much greater. According to Department of Education data, more than 90 percent of students attending either two- or four-year programs at for-profit colleges will emerge with some amount of student loan debt. By comparison, only about 60 percent of public four-year university students accumulate student loan debt, and less than 40 percent of students attending two-year community college programs leave with any debt -– the vast majority of which is less than $10,000.


Full article at Huffington Post.

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