Skip to main content

Search form

The State of For-Profit Colleges

December 1, 2017
Student Loans

For-profit colleges are big business, primarily funded by taxpayers. Unfortunately, given the poor quality and high cost, students are often unable to graduate and get jobs in their field. They bear high burdens of debt and often default on that debt.

In many cases, for-profit students are nontraditional students, making sacrifices and struggling to manage family and work obligations to make better lives for their families. For-profit colleges target them with aggressive marketing, persuading them to invest heavily in futures that will never come to pass.

Interactive Map

Scroll over the map for state-specific information (total undergraduate enrollment, total for-profit undergraduate enrollment, and three largest for-profit colleges by undergraduate enrollment) and click each state for an in-depth fact sheet. (Due to inadequate data Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Wyoming do not have fact sheets – clicking on these states will take you to the State of For-profit Colleges Methodology and Data Tables for further explanation.)


*Subsequently closed school

In many states, for-profit colleges disproportionately harm low-income families, communities of color and women. This Center for Responsible Lending analysis maps the for-profit college landscape state-by-state. With certain exceptions described in the State of For-profit Colleges Methodology and Data Tables (PDF), the scroll-over map shows for each state:

  • Total undergraduate enrollment at all higher education institutions,
  • Total undergraduate enrollment at all for-profit colleges,
  • The three largest for-profit colleges based on undergraduate enrollment.

A printable fact sheet is linked to each state, which provides statistics on the disproportionate impact of for-profit harms on low-income students, people of color and women in that state. All data shown is for Title IV primarily undergraduate institutions. Note that many large online and/or multibranch for‐profit institutions aggregate data for students located in other states at the state of their national or regional "home." This can result in the appearance of very large for‐profit enrollment in some states relative to total undergraduate enrollment size (Arizona for example).

Our discussion of "communities of color" is limited to data on African American students. Although in most cases, Latino enrollment in for-profits at the state level is not as disproportionate as that of African Americans, for-profit college outcomes of Latino students are also dismal. CRL will be highlighting these outcomes in upcoming publications.

This school was caution flagged by the GI Bill Comparison Tool , indicating that the VA or another federal agency like the Department of Education or Department of Defense has applied increased regulatory or legal scrutiny to a program of education and that potential students should pay attention to and consider this flag before enrolling in a program of education. View an explanation of caution flags and the specific reason this school was flagged can be found in this database which is regularly updated. Note that this school was flagged as of the December 7th, 2017 version of this data.

The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) acknowledges generous support for this project from the Prudential Foundation.