You’d think something as publicly and deeply criticized as the US’s for-profit education sector—charged in recent years with fraud, misinformation, and leading students to rack up enormous and unnecessary debt—would be falling apart at the seams by now. Yet it’s not so.
Despite high-profile scrutiny from the federal government, not to mention the class-action lawsuit against Donald Trump’s former for-profit university that the president-elect just spent $25 million to settle, for-profit schools are actually doing quite well. A report from the Center for American Progress today says that 11% of graduate students in the US are attending for-profit institutions, up from 3% a decade and a half ago—a fivefold increase in enrollment.
Undergraduate enrollment at for-profit schools may be falling steeply, but graduate student numbers are still climbing. Since graduate students are allowed to take out more than double the maximum amount in loans that undergraduates can, they’re at greater risk of personal financial ruin; the higher limits on their borrowing—combined with for-profit schools’ known tendency to land students in debt—also means taxpayers may have to shoulder a bigger burden in future loan forgiveness programs. (Already, that burden is proving bigger than expected.)
Under Trump, a staunch advocate of for-profit schooling, the entire industry may score itself a revival.