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California Journal of Politics and Policy

Managing Editor: Lubenow, Gerald

Ed. by Citrin, Jack / Cain, Bruce / Noll, Roger

The Role of For-Profit Colleges in Increasing Postsecondary Completions

1Department of Public Policy & Administration, California State University, Sacramento, CA, USA

Corresponding author: Su Jin Jez, Department of Public Policy & Administration, California State University, Sacramento, CA, USA

Citation Information: . Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 140–160, ISSN (Online) 1944-4370, DOI: 10.1515/cjpp-2012-0010, June 2012


For-profit institutions of higher education have been in the hot seat for their recruiting practices and questions of quality have reached a crescendo. Still, a large number of students are attending these colleges. For-profits enroll a more diverse student population than any other higher education sector in California, including the community colleges, and about half of their students receive Pell Grants – a smaller proportion than non-profits, and a number similar to the University of California system. Not only are many students attending for-profits, but a large number of them are graduating from these institutions. I found that in 2010, more than 20% of the long-term certificates, associates and bachelor’s degrees were awarded by a for-profit institution. These certificates and degrees focus on career-related fields, such as health sciences, and few are in the traditional liberal arts, such as the humanities, math, or social sciences. As state-level policy conversations in higher education focus on outcomes and increasing educational attainment rates, they must include for-profit institutions in strategic planning. While there may be much to be critical of regarding for-profits, they still educate a huge number of students, and these numbers are only growing.

Keywords: For-Profit Colleges; higher education policy; state-level policy.

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