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Maine’s For-Profit College Students Carry Heavy Debt Burdens and Struggle in Repayment

April 20, 2017
Student Loans

Students at Maine’s for-profit colleges carry higher levels of debt, borrow in higher percentages, and have worse repayment rates on that debt compared to their peers at public and private non-profit institutions. Because African Americans, females, and low-income students are disproportionately enrolled in Maine’s for-profit colleges, these poor outcomes fall more heavily on these vulnerable subgroups.

This report uses the most recent data released from the U.S. Department of Education (College Scorecard, September 2016) to present a snapshot view of the condition of higher education within the state of Maine. It compares public, private, and for-profit institutions based on their average demographic makeup and indications of student financial burden after leaving school. Financial burden comparisons are for colleges offering predominantly 2-year degrees only, as Maine does not have for-profits that offer predominately Bachelor's degrees.

Specifically, the Center for Responsible Lending finds the following:

  • Disproportionate impact. The for-profit sector enrolls 6% of all Maine undergrads. For-profit enrollment at the institution level is disproportionately low-income (60%, as measured by the proxy Pell Grantees ), African-American (8%), and female (76%) compared to public and private peers. This means that the poor outcomes discussed below fall disproportionately on these populations.
  • Higher percentage of students borrow. The average proportion of students that borrow at Maine’s for-profit institutions is 75% compared to 41% and 66% respectively at public and private institutions.
  • Higher debt burdens. The median debt level of students that have graduated from for-profit institutions is substantially higher ($23,781 compared to $10,940 and $16,000 for public and private institution peers, respectively).
  • Lower repayment rates. The higher debt levels contribute to another troublesome outcome: for-profit students have a repayment rate that is approximately two-thirds of public school peers and one-half that of private school peers (44% compared to 67% and 87% respectively).