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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

For-profit universities, often criticized for recruiting disadvantaged Americans and offering overpriced degrees, saw their enrollments more than triple during the Great Recession.

Why it matters: People went back to school in droves when the job market dried up, and for-profit colleges which can be more flexible with class sizes attracted students looking for an alternative to traditional institutions. But studies show that students at for-profit universities are less likely to graduate and and more likely to have significant debt and default on their loans, compared to traditional 4-year-degree counterparts.

At their peak enrollment in 2010, students at for-profit colleges only represented 11% of the overall student population, according to NCES. For-profit institutions can be an option for those who may not otherwise have access to education.

Expand chart
Data: National Center for Education Statistics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

But there are downsides of for-profit universities:

The impact: The high costs of many for-profit colleges can worsen socio-economic inequality. Minorities, women, older and low-income students are overrepresented in for-profit colleges, according to studies by Rajashri Chakrabarti, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

  • The Obama administration implemented new regulations, requiring proof of a reasonable debt-to-income ratio among graduates. It also shut down two major for-profit college chains — Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech — which had been accused of false advertising and predatory lending.
  • Enrollment in for-profit institutions has recently leveled off, likely due to a more welcoming labor environment and the new rules, which had a "chilling effect" on for-profit colleges, Lowell Rickets from the St. Louis Federal Reserve told Axios.
  • The Trump administration is rolling back those rules aimed at abuses at for-profit schools.

Go deeper

Neera Tanden withdraws nomination for Office of Management and Budget director

Neera Tanden testifying before the Senate Budget Committee in Washington, D.C., in February 2021. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Neera Tanden withdrew her name from nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget after several senators voiced opposition and concern about her qualifications and past combative tweets, President Biden announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Tanden’s decision to pull her nomination marks Biden's first setback in filling out his Cabinet with a thin Democratic majority in the Senate.

What's ahead for the newest female CEOs

Jane Fraser (L) and Rosalind Brewer. Photos: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images; Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The number of women at the helm of America’s biggest companies pales in comparison to men, but is newly growing — and their tasks are huge.

What's going on: Jane Fraser took over at Citigroup this week, the first woman to ever lead a major U.S. bank. Rosalind Brewer will take the reins at Walgreens in the coming weeks (March 15) — a company that's been run by white men for more than a century.

3 hours ago - Health

Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccines for 300 million adults by end of May

President Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday said that ramped-up coronavirus vaccine production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.

Why it matters: That's two months sooner than Biden's previous promise of enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of July.