COLLEGE
06/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Enrollment Numbers Swell At For-Profit Colleges, Report Shows

A comprehensive report released by the National Center for Education Statistics revealed at least one surprising statistic: The ratio of students attending private nonprofit colleges to for-profit colleges has fallen from 3 to 1 to approximately 2 to 1.

The report, titled "Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2008; Graduation Rates, 2002 and 2005 Cohorts; and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2008," looks at enrollment numbers, graduation statistics, financial aid awards and university budgets in schools around the country.

Inside Higher Ed has more on growing college enrollment and the for-profit surge:

The increase of more than 900,000 total students from 2007 to 2008 challenges the frequent complaints from policy makers that higher education institutions cannot or will not add capacity to serve more students. Yes, more than a third of that increase came in the for-profit sector, which saw its share of the entire postsecondary market inch ever closer to 10 percent (it is likely to be well above that now, given how career college enrollments have swelled in recent months).

According to the Associated Press, 10 nonprofit colleges have transitioned to for-profit corporations in the last six years.

One such school is Dana College in Omaha, which decided to make the switch after seeing its budget deficit grow. The school says it remains committed to its mission, though significant change will come swiftly under the new management style.

Dana officials and the investors buying the college said they don't plan big staff or program changes. The school was founded by Danes and has ties to the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The investors plan to double Dana's 500-student enrollment through aggressive marketing and expanded study-abroad programs.

For-profit colleges and trade schools have faced criticism for what some call deceptive recruiting tactics. As The New York Times reported last month:

For-profit trade schools have long drawn accusations that they overpromise and underdeliver, but the woeful economy has added to the industry's opportunities along with the risks to students, according to education experts. They say these schools have exploited the recession as a lucrative recruiting device while tapping a larger pool of federal student aid.

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