When looking into your options for higher education, you’ll come across three broad categories of post-secondary schools: public schools; private, non-profit schools; and for-profit schools. In Massachusetts there are 29 public schools made up of universities, state colleges and community colleges; numerous private, non-profit schools; and nearly 200 for-profit schools. Schools in each of these categories include degree-granting institutions that offer a wide array of programs, including four-year bachelor degree programs and two-year associate degree programs, and non-degree granting schools that offer various certificates or other skills-based training programs. Non-degree granting programs have limitations in that the credits received at these schools are typically not transferable to other schools.
Schools and the programs they offer vary widely in terms of size, student population, location, tuition costs, course offerings, specializations, teaching method, and other factors. While many of the programs take place in traditional classroom learning environments, some programs are based in part or entirely online, especially at for-profit schools. There are lots of things to consider with respect to your post-secondary educational options, among them affordability, value and versatility of the program. There is no one-size fits all model school; rather, it’s up to each prospective student to determine which learning format, environment and other factors will help you get the most out of your educational experience.
While there are many schools that can offer you a quality degree or certificate with a specific skill set, unfortunately some for-profit schools engage in aggressive and misleading recruitment practices that overstate graduation and placement rates and oversell the value of the program, leaving students with insurmountable debt and ill-prepared to succeed. Students who are victims of such deceptive practices often experience extreme economic difficulty, including loan default and poor credit ratings, underemployment and emotional hardships.
Post-secondary education and career training is a vital investment that should lead to better opportunities for job placement and economic security, not just debt (or default) and underemployment (or unemployment). Thus, you need to plan carefully and invest wisely before you enroll to ensure you’ll get the skills you need to be successful in your chosen career field. On the left, you’ll find some helpful information to better inform you when making your post-secondary educational decisions.
Information for this section is compiled from reports by the Better Business Bureau, the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Government Accountability Office, the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
In this section, you’ll learn more information about for-profit schools, including common facts and statistics, deceptive tactics to be aware of and avoid, and a checklist of questions to ask and have answered before you enroll in a for-profit school program.
Learn about the additional resources available to assist prospective students in selecting an affordable school program, the financial aid options and student loan information.