Does it matter if a college is For-Profit or Non-Profit?

collegesHigh school graduates and adult re-entry college students have a lot of work to do when they are comparing colleges and universities. Not only do these prospective students have to consider the school’s reputation, the staff to student ratio, and tuition costs, they also need to take time to understand the difference between for-profit and non-profit institutions so that they can make the best choice to earn their degree. There are a few major differences between for-profit and non-profit colleges, and understanding these differences in terms of learning environment and composition is imperative if you want to achieve academic success and career success. If you are not familiar with all of the major differences and how they can affect you as a student, read this straightforward guide and learn what you need to know.

Non-profit or For-profit? Where is the Funding Coming From?

The biggest difference between a for-profit and a non-profit college is how the higher education institution is funded. A non-profit college, which consists of community colleges, state universities and some private schools, receive a major portion of their funding from federal and state governments. For-profit schools, on the other hand, are funded by shareholders and are subsidiaries of private companies. These private institutions are in business to teach a student body, and also in business to make money for the shareholders and owners of the private company. Obviously, the government and shareholders have their own motivations behind the type of education that is delivered and the tuition fees that are charged.

Types of Education and Programs Offered by Each

While for-profit schools do offer academic and research-oriented courses, these proprietary schools tend to focus more on delivering a vocational education or technical skills that can be used in the workforce. Non-profit schools, on the other hand, offer research-oriented classes and focus the structure of courses around quality education and not profits. Non-profit schools are operated independently of a structure where the owner is involved so that higher education is the focus and that this is not compromised in an effort to seek financial returns. While profits are a priority in a for-profit school, many of these schools still do offer programs that excel and meet accreditation standards.

How Much Does Education Cost?

As you might expect, it costs quite a bit more to complete a degree program with a for-profit school than it does to complete the same type of program with a non-profit school. Tuition costs for non-profits cost about $26,000 on average and $31,000 for profit seeking institutions. Even more alarming is the fact that for-profit schools spend about $3000 per student in instructional costs, and non-profit schools spend about $15,000 per head. As you can see, the goal to earn a profit does interfere with instruction and costs.

Non-profit school are run by Alumni boards and a Board of Trustees, whereas a for-profit school is run by faculty and shareholders. You must consider all of these factors when you are comparing different educational paths. While for-profit schools are centered around earning profits, one advantage is that the schedules are very flexible and allow you to finish school faster. Think about what is important to you, do your homework, and then put your all into your higher education.