The North Carolina Justice Center’s Predatory For-Profit Schools Project (PFPSP) works to educate students and the general public about deceptive and predatory practices that are common in the for-profit school industry. We also provide legal representation to students who enrolled in certain for-profit schools and are now left with little more than crushing student loan debt.
This page is designed to help you (1) avoid the traps of for-profit schools and get the most out of your education dollars, and (2) to help you get assistance if you have already been taken advantage of by a for-profit school.
If you are an advocate who works with students or an attorney interested in legal issues concerning for-profit schools, click here for more information.
Did you enroll in a For-Profit School?
You probably saw their commercials on television or heard them on the radio. They promised you could easily earn a certificate or degree that would qualify you for a great new job.
Here’s what those commercials didn’t tell you.
They’re after your student-loan money.
The primary motivation of for-profit colleges and universities is to make money. (Most reputable colleges and universities are non-profit.) For-profit schools generally target people who will take out student loans to pay for tuition.
Tuition costs are usually much higher at a for-profit school than they would be for a similar program at a public community college or university. In fact, a government investigation found that an associate degree or certificate at a for-profit school will cost you four times as much, on average, as a similar program at a community college.
For-profit schools use that tuition money on their slick advertising and recruitment efforts and to give huge salaries to their executives. Only a small share of that money goes to students’ education.
They don’t care if you fail.
For-profit schools will enroll you in courses you may not be academically ready for. They don’t care if you’re working two jobs or caring for children and don’t have time to do study.
If you fail a course or drop out, it’s not the school’s problem. They already have your loan money, and you’re stuck with that debt.
Even if you graduate, your certificate or degree may not be worth much.
Many professions require that you have an accredited certificate or degree to qualify for a job. The programs at for-profit schools might not be accredited or recognized as having value by employers, so your certificate or degree may be worthless.
Also, you may not be able to transfer the credits from a for-profit school to another college or university. Instead of continuing your education, you’ll have to start over—but the student-loan debt stays with you. If you default on that debt, it will ruin your credit rating.
Beware, Veterans! For-Profit Schools are Targeting You
For-profit schools work hard to recruit veterans. As Senator Tom Harkin put it, “For-profit schools see our active-duty military and veterans as a cash cow, an untapped profit resource. It is both a rip-off of the taxpayer and a slap in the face to the people who have risked their lives for our country.”
For-profit schools are after your G.I. education benefits, and their recruiters will tell you almost anything to get that money. Check out some of the media reports about the problems with for-profit schools:
There are Better Options
The US Department of Education offers several websites to help students find the right school. Through the College Navigator, students can find out whether a school has a for-profit or non-profit status, what its accreditation is, and what its default rates are for students. They can also use the Department of Education’s accreditation tool. Plus, the College Affordability and Transparency Center helps students figure out how much a particular program will cost and if there are better, less expensive options.
Resources for Veterans
Before choosing a college, veterans should use the resources listed above to make the best choice for their future. The links below also offer resources specific to veterans:
Help with Student Loan Debt
If you’ve had a problem with a for-profit school, contact us. The Predatory For-Profit Schools Project provides free or low-cost assistance to eligible students.
Mail: Predatory For-Profit Schools Project
c/o NC Justice Center
PO Box 28068
Raleigh, NC 27611
Please provide your name, the for-profit school you attended or are attending, and your contact information. Please do not send us your original documents.
Please do not provide us with any confidential information. Unsolicited emails and information you provide to the North Carolina Justice Center, or your sending a written request for assistance, will not create an attorney-client relationship. Unless the Justice Center advises you otherwise, the Justice Center does not represent you and you remain responsible for any filing deadlines that you may have.
The information and materials on this website are intended for information purposes only and are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The information is general in nature and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. Neither this website, nor the use of information from the website creates an attorney-client relationship.