According to Frank Donoghue's book, The Last Professors, fully one-third of American two- and four-year colleges were for-profit by 2003. The University of Phoenix alone currently enrolls over 440,000 students, making it the second-largest higher-education system in the country after SUNY. In 2008, when Donoghue's book was published, the seven biggest public companies running these schools had a combined market cap of over $22 billion and enrolled nearly 700,000 students--nearly seven percent of all college students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities that year.
John Sperling, the founder of the University of Phoenix, has been widely quoted as having said, "This is a corporation... coming here is not a rite of passage. We are not trying to develop value systems or go in for that 'expand their minds' bullshit.'"