How Are Non-Profit Colleges Different From For-Profit Colleges?

What's the difference between nonprofit vs for-profit colleges?

Flickr user afrikantraveler

As you explore different colleges, you will likely find that all schools are categorized as either ‘for-profit’ or ‘non-profit.” So what exactly do these terms mean and how does it affect you? How do they rank against one another, and what can you expect from them? Keep reading to discover more about nonprofit vs for profit colleges.

What Is a Non-Profit College?

A non-profit college’s sole purpose is to create a learning environment that serves students’ interests. The main focus of a non-profit college is to help students complete their college degree as a launchpad for career success.

Non-profit colleges are publicly owned, and as with most other non-profit organizations, they are managed by a board of trustees. There are no owners or shareholders in a non-profit college. That leaves the management free to focus on providing quality education to their students.

Moreover, because they are publicly owned, these institutions receive substantial financial aid in the form of federal and state funding. They also receive funding from individual donors. All of this helps them operate efficiently while still keeping the tuition fees lower. These colleges tend to offer students better financial aid packages and scholarship programs.

What Is a For-Profit College?

A for-profit college is essentially a business. The college is in the business of providing a service, which in this case is education for college students. Owners and shareholders launch and manage these colleges to make a profit from their business venture.

For-profit colleges also focus on providing quality education. They cannot afford to compromise on the quality of education they provide or their rankings will go down, which will ultimately affect their enrollment numbers. They also offer benefits to many students including flexibility in schedule (perfect for adults returning to school), plenty of options with courses, and a focus on skills-based learning and training.

However, for these institutions, a profitable bottom line remains a priority. In order to keep the college running, they have to balance quality education with providing satisfactory returns for their investors and shareholders. This often means periodic increases in the tuition fees and some for-profit colleges that lean towards being predatory (we’ll cover this a bit more below!).

Cost Of Education: Nonprofit vs For Profit Colleges

Non-profit colleges are the more affordable of the two. Not only are their tuition fees lower but all of the other expenses, from boarding to books, are lower than for-profit colleges. The federal, state and private funding they receive allows them to keep their fees more affordable.

This helps them operate efficiently while still keeping tuition fees low. For-profit colleges, on the other hand, have to focus on earning enough revenue to pay off shareholders. To keep the business afloat and profitable, they regularly raise the cost of tuition.

Should You Choose a Non-Profit or For-Profit College?

So which should you go with? A non-profit or for-profit college?

For the most part, many students will head to a non-profit college. These schools tend to be more focused on quality education and can offer more financial aid than for-profit schools will deliver. Non-profit colleges also tend to be more favorably looked upon by employers.

For-profit colleges, while they do have some benefits – such as plenty of flexibility for adult learners and higher acceptance rates – they can be very expensive for some students. There are also a number that are predatory on students who don’t know any better.

How Can You Avoid Predatory For-Profit Colleges?

If you’re thinking about attending a for-profit college, it’s essential to know what to look for. Some have bad reputations, and others may have poor educational experiences or qualifications, especially if you look beyond the surface level.

Always look at what other students and alumni are saying about a school (this goes for non-profit, too!) because this will give you an accurate representation about the college experience, costs, and job opportunities after graduation. You’ll also want to see how the school weighs education vs profits and explore professional opinions.

When it comes to deciding on a school, it’s important to get the whole picture. There’s more to a college than advertisements. Explore the costs of a college, reviews, and the college itself to get a better idea of what to expect. You’ll also, of course, want to keep your wants, needs, and goals in mind when choosing between nonprofit vs for profit colleges.

Is it time to decide on a college? College Raptor’s College Match tool allows you to enter your wants, needs, and achievements to help you find the best schools to serve you! Get started for free right here.

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