Warning Signs to Avoid a Closing College
Losing students. Being watched by the federal government. Low graduation rates.
These are all warning signs that your college might close.
In recent years, students at for-profit universities have been faced with the problem of schools suddenly closing. A recent article written by Chris Quintanna for USA Today reported that one study found that 100,000 students have been displaced since 2015 due to for-profit school closure. The latest giant to fall? Argosy University’s Chicago branch, which reportedly had a “chaotic and emotional” final few days.
Students said they were caught off guard. After all, the university was accredited. In fact, they didn’t see any warning signs until they suddenly stopped receiving financial aid for the Spring 2019 semester. Though federal loan forgiveness exists in these situations, there is no recovering the time, money, and effort that students sink into degrees that they never get the chance to finish.
Despite this, in the fall of 2018, 795,000 students enrolled in for-profit universities. These schools make enrolling a breeze and promise non-traditional students things like flexible hours, virtual campuses, and direct paths into careers. This model can appeal to students who may not have had previous expectations or knowledge about what a higher education institution can look like, leaving them vulnerable to schools not invested in their success.
The high risk also tends to yield a low reward, with percentages for unemployment, low incomes, and loan default being higher than at other schools. The graduation rate for for-profit schools was also significantly lower, coming in at about 25% compared to non-profit, private universities, where it rang in at 65% overall.
How can a student protect themselves from a college shuttering on them? Experts suggest that research is the number one tool. Checking websites like the federally run College Scorecard can provide students with crucial info they need about their prospective school. Students should also be sure and check whether or not the school they are interested in is being watched by the US Department of Education for financial reasons, as that is a major red flag. Interested parties can download a spreadsheet to find out here.
When in doubt, the article urges students to talk to a college admissions counselor who can help guide anyone through the process and give crucial advice.
Find the full report on USA Today’s website.