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For‐Profit Colleges in the United States: Insights from Two Decades of Research

In this paper, I review the economics literature on for-profit college education in the United States, assessing what we know about institutional behavior and student outcomes after two decades of research. The many studies reviewed here reveal some consistent patterns. It is clear that for-profits compete with institutions in other sectors, yet they behave differently than their public and nonprofit counterparts. The literature is mixed on the responsiveness of the sector to labor market demands, but any responsiveness does not appear to translate to better student outcomes. The vast majority of studies on employment and earnings gains for students in for-profits find worse outcomes for for-profit students relative to similar students in other sectors. These disappointing results suggest that additional accountability measures may be warranted to protect students and taxpayers.

for-profit education, higher education, student outcomes
Education level
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EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Cellini, Stephanie Riegg . (). For‐Profit Colleges in the United States: Insights from Two Decades of Research. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-398). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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