As military spouses we’re constantly facing the challenge of reinventing ourselves with each move. Our personal and professional goals are instantly applied to a 2 or 3 year timeline, and with the proliferation of for-profit colleges offering online degree programs and the assistance of programs like MyCAA, many of us are heading back to school.
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For-profit college enrollment is up 225% thanks to snazzy marketing efforts that promise fast track degrees at the student’s pace. According to Business Week, “students at for-profit colleges carry the biggest loans in U.S. higher education.” And in 2010, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) carried out undercover tests at 15 for-profit colleges and found that “4 colleges encouraged fraudulent practices and that all 15 made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements to GAO’s undercover applicants.”
Is Your For-Profit College Shady?
Before you decide to hit the books at a for-profit college, do your research. With money to be made by students desperate to up their degree-game, some “schools” have very questionable tactics to get and keep students enrolled. Here are a few things to check out about your current or prospective for-profit college:
Your school is not accredited.
A degree from a non-accredited school is as worthless as you printing and signing your own diploma. Don’t waste your time or your money on a non-accredited school. Check your school’s accreditation with the US Department of Education.
When you enroll for classes, you feel like you’re being pressured into a quick decision.
Do you feel like registration is more like a sales call? Maybe that’s because it is. According to the Better Business Bureau, “A reputable school will take the time to answer your questions, allow you to talk to a financial aid advisor and not push you into making a hasty decision.”
Your school’s prices are high in comparison to local schools.
The cost of higher education is hardly a bargain, but for-profit colleges take the cake. The GAO found that the colleges they tested “cost substantially more for associate’s degrees and certificates than comparable degrees and certificates at public colleges near by.” One of their test-students was quoted $14,000 for a massage therapy certificate that would’ve cost $520 at a local community college.
Alternatives to For-Profit Colleges for Military Spouses
For-profit colleges aren’t the end-all-and-be-all of flexible and portable higher education opportunities for military spouses- there are quite a few alternatives out there.
Before you do anything, visit your installation’s Education Office to learn more about educational opportunities available for military families.
Don’t discount the value and opportunities available at a community college. Community colleges are amazing institutions that can provide an affordable way to complete your prerequisites and your first two years of schooling towards an undergraduate degree.
Some local colleges and universities may also offer programs for military family members through their financial aid office. Call or visit your local schools for more information.
How many of you are thinking about returning to school? Are you considering a for-profit school?