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GAO: For-profit, public schools show similar success rates

Jul. 31, 2013 - 12:40PM   |  
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Students attending the for-profit institutions that take in the most Post-9/11 GI Bill money don’t appear substantially less likely, or more likely, to succeed academically that those attending similar public or nonprofit private schools, a recent government study suggests.

Such for-profit schools had retention rates — based on how many incoming freshmen return to continue school the following year — about 6 percentage points lower than public schools on average, the Government Accountability Office found. But for-profits in this group posted graduation rates that averaged about 6 points higher than those of similar public schools.

An important limitation of the report is that it considered retention and graduation rates for the full school populations, not just student veterans, as veteran-specific data is not available. The report focused on the 654 schools that received at least $2 million in Post-9/11 GI Bill payments in fiscal 2010 and 2011.

Per veteran, average Post-9/11 GI Bill payments were more than twice as high at for-profits as at public institutions and slightly more expensive than average payments to nonprofit private schools. These for-profits posted student-loan default rates about 6.5 percentage points higher than those of public schools.

For-profit schools in this group enrolled substantially more low-income, minority and adult students, as a proportion of their student body, than did their public and nonprofit peers, the study found.

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