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Higher Education Trends & the Rise of the For-Profit University | Part I: Just the facts, Ma’am

Alicia Locher | Academic Client Services

As we dive in the academic realm on the blog this week, we’ll discuss trends in higher education that have contributed to the rise of the for-profit university. In light of these trends, we’ll take a look at the relevance of for-profits in the educational sector despite critical reports by government and news media. Finally, we’ll wrap up by discussing how Mudd Academics has helped for-profit higher education institutions generate leads at dozens of campuses across theU.S.

First, the facts (and a cool infographic):

1) Tuition costs are rising. The New York Times reported in 2008, “College tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007 while median family income rose 147 percent.”[1]

 2) Students at non-profit colleges and universities come from disproportionately wealthy families. Because of rising tuition or perhaps in spite of it, the average income for families of college-bound freshman is 60% higher than the median U.S. income.[2]  It appears that the door to higher education for low-income families is slowly closing.

3) The influx in non-traditional students (older students, single mothers, full-time workers, etc.) is expected to be greater over the next 5 years than the growth of traditional college enrollees. The National Center for Educational Statistics “projects a rise of 10 percent in enrollments of people under 25, and a rise of 19 percent in enrollments of people 25 and over from 2006 to 2017.”[3]

The great chasm in income between traditional college students and other Americans has opened the door for for-profit universities who compete for students’ federal aid dollars. As a result, successful for-profit institutions have adapted rapidly to the market’s need for short-term, career-oriented programs that focus on low-income, working families. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition to learn more about the gap in the market for-profit education institutions fill.


[1] Lewin, Tamar.“Higher Education May Soon Become Unaffordable for Most in U.S.” <http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/12/03/education/03college.web.html>

[2]O’Neill, James M. Houston Chronicle. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/4700569.html

[3] National Center for Education Statistics. U.S. Department of Education. Fast Facts. Accessed 6 July 2011. < http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=98 >.

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