Saving Tuition Dollars on For-Profit Universities

Are you an adult learner thinking about starting or completing your degree, and also thinking about applying to a For-Profit University? Perhaps you are in charge of your company’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and see all the employees choosing the For-Profit schools over their local universities.

For-Profit universities are very popular options with adult learners. The colleges’ ads appear in the newspaper, on radio and TV and any Internet Education Program search shows these schools at the top of the results. These For-Profit schools (University of Phoenix, Capella University, Strayer University, DeVry/Keller University, etc.) tout their programs as “one of the best schools”, “top-rated university”, “degree geared to today’s workplace”. Their accelerated formats, choices of online or on-campus and awarding credits for life/work experience are some of the reasons adult learners choose these colleges over their local state and private universities.

For-Profit schools are popular for at least 4 reasons:

• Advertising. The ads are seen daily on the Internet, heard on the radio and viewed on TV.

• Marketing. These colleges have set up partnerships with corporations to provide tuition discounts to employees from these partner companies. The savings can be from 3% – 15%.

• Customer Service. For-Profits do a good job helping potential students obtain their former transcripts and getting enrolled quickly.

• Format of Classes. These schools provide accelerated programs, online and on-campus courses to accommodate working professionals’ busy schedule.

However, the costs for these For-Profit schools are usually much more than local colleges. Cost of an undergraduate class at these schools can range from $900 – $1800 and graduate costs per class can range from $1200 – $2400. There are several ways to attend a For-Profit College and lower the cost:

• Start at the Community College. Community college costs are a fraction of the costs. Even with the addition of fees, most community college classes are $100- $300//courses (versus the for-profit of $900-$1800/course. Classes you can take at the community college and transfer are: English Composition, Math, History, Science, and Humanities. If you plan to attend graduate school, you might be able to take the prerequisites (foundation courses) at a community college at a much lower cost.

• Gain less expensive college credits using the Assessment of Life/work Experience option. Many of the For-Profit colleges allow adult learners to use their life/work experiences to gain college credits. The school provides a workshop, tutorial or class to help “package” your life/work experiences. This process of writing essays and documenting experience is called the “Portfolio of Life/work Experience” or “Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)”. Many adult students can gain 15 – 30 units from the PLA and these credits are less expensive than taking the regular courses.

• Ask the college to evaluate your military, licenses and certificates. Military classes, licenses and certificates have been evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE) and have