For-profit colleges like the University of Phoenix have become ubiquitous in recent years – and, as a professor at the for-profit Art Institute of Denver wrote recently for the New York Times, they've grown popular among people looking to improve their standing among prospective employers.
But, the Department of Education reports, for-profit college students are far more likely to default than their peers at conventional, nonprofit universities. About a quarter of all federally guaranteed student loans go to people at for-profit schools – but those students are responsible for half the nation's student-loan defaults.
"It's disturbingly easy," the Art Institute of Denver professor, Jeremy Dehn, says, "to get accepted [to a for-profit school], receive thousands of dollars in loans and then flunk out with crippling debt and no degree to show for it."
As Dehn notes, Congress is considering a measure that would withhold federal financing from for-profit colleges that left their students swamped in student-loan debt. But, until such a bill becomes law, students at the country's thousands of for-profit schools may only be digging themselves deeper into debt.