Jeffrey R. Young
December 4, 2020
The pandemic has hit higher education hard, with falling enrollments in most types of colleges over the past year. A notable exception, though, are for-profit colleges, where overall enrollments held steady during that period, and first-time student enrollment is up, according to the latest data from the National Student Clearinghouse.
Some higher-ed watchers say that Trump administration policies and practices have led for-profit colleges to rebound since he took office, even though for-profits tend to cost students more and yield lower student outcomes than nonprofit colleges.
From the start of Donald Trump’s time as president, his Department of Education, led by Betsy DeVos, signalled its friendliness to the for-profit sector, says A.J. Angulo, a professor of education at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and author of “Diploma Mills: How For-Profit Colleges Stiffed Students, Taxpayers, and the American Dream.”
“Even simply having Trump in the White House signaled to a lot of institutions: Here is one of our own,” he says, noting that Trump long ran an unaccredited for-profit real estate-training business called Trump University, which faced a federal lawsuit by students who said they were duped by it. (The lawsuit was settled in 2018.) “And having Trump in the White House signaled a tremendous green light to a lot of folks in the industry to expand and even push the envelope.”