Making the Grade: An Analysis of For-profit and Career Schools in Maryland

August 2015 / Abell-Supported Research / Education, Workforce Development
two women outside talking and holding papers
The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, with funding support from the Abell Foundation, explored the opportunities and costs of for-profit and career schools.

The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC) has released “Making the Grade? An Analysis of For-Profit and Career Schools in Maryland,” the first state-wide study of for-profit schools in the country.

With funding support from the Abell Foundation, MCRC uncovered troubling findings: Students at for-profit schools in Maryland are paying more for their education, taking out larger loans and facing higher default rates on their loans than students at public institutions. These issues are compounded by the marketing practices of for-profit schools. The immense financial costs of attending for-profit schools fall disproportionately upon low-income students, who qualify for the highest amount of financial aid, and African-American students.

Key statistics:

  • In Maryland, for-profit schools cost at least twice as much as public colleges and universities.
  • The average amount of debt for students at for-profit schools is three times higher than those at public colleges and universities.
  • Twenty-three percent of students enrolled in for-profit schools for a certificate or a degree default on their loans, compared to 15 percent of their counterparts at public colleges.

In the report, MCRC outlines policy recommendations that strengthen consumer protections and preserve educational opportunities for vulnerable students.