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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

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

5 hours ago - World

Zelensky questions U.S. warnings of "imminent" invasion in Biden call

Biden and Zelensky at the White House last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a back-and-forth in their call this evening about just how "imminent" the threat of a Russian invasion might be, according to three sources briefed on the call.

Why it matters: Biden has said previously that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably "move in" to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon that "an invasion could come at any time."