For-Profit Colleges: Ask the Right Questions
For-Profit schools have been in the news in recent weeks. There are a number of for-profit colleges that offer valuable degrees and certificates. On the other hand, some institutions take advantage of students, leaving them with only crippling debt to show for their time and effort. It is important to do your homework before signing a contract or applying for a loan. Here are some important questions to consider. Your LegalShield provider law firm can help by reviewing any contracts and loan agreements before you sign.
- What do you know about the school you are considering? You should find out the school’s graduation rate and job placement rates for your specific degree. In the US schools are required to publish information about the total cost of the program, student debt, graduation rates and career placement. You should not rely solely on information provided by the school. Do some research online to find out what previous graduates have to say about the school and the program.
- Is the school accredited? You should find out if the program you are interested in is accredited. Accredited colleges are peer reviewed by faculty from other accredited schools to make sure they meet specific educational standards.
- Is your desired degree or certificate in demand? Find out if employers are actively recruiting in the field you are considering. What is the average starting pay for new hires in the field? What types of advancement opportunities are available to you with the degree or certificate? Think 10 to 20 years into the future; where do you want to be?
- How much will it cost? Compare the cost of the program to other programs at public, private, non-profit and for-profit schools. If the cost is significantly higher you need to consider what you are getting for the additional cost. Does the school have a cancelation or refund policy? What happens if you begin classes and discover the program is not a good fit for you?
- Are you being pressured? Some for-profit schools have been accused of using coercive and high pressure sales tactics to recruit new students. If you are feeling pressured, take a step back and consider your options. Do not allow anyone to coerce you into signing loan documents or contracts without a legal review.
- How will you pay for the degree or certificate? Many students rely on loans to pay for their education. Use this student loan repayment calculator to determine your future monthly payments. Will the typical entry level salary in your desired field allow you to repay your loan and other bills?
A Member’s Perspective
“I signed up to go to college a few months after becoming a member, a friend commented that she didn't like the college I had chosen. I got nervous so I called my law firm to see what I could do. A lawyer called me back and said, based on what I wanted to do, I may not need to go to school and that I should hold off going to school right now because the school was in the process of being sold. Six months later, I got into my car to hear a breaking news report "the government had gone in that same day and shut the school down" 1500 students and 500 teachers were on the streets...many who just had to [take] an exam that day to get a license. Thank God my friend was uneasy, but mostly, Thank God LegalShield gave me access to know exactly what to do and save me more than $10,000.”
Ontario Member and Sales Associate, Palmonia Gordon