The Importance of Research

In my work, I frequently speak to parents and students about the importance of developing both a college admissions and financial aid plan if students are to choose the right college and identify the necessary sources of financial aid to pay for college. I frequently share the story of how our older son was able to attend Amherst College due to their need-based “no loans” financial aid policy and how our younger son (pictured here) was able to attend Morehouse Collegeas a result of his having been selected as a 2012 Gates Millennium Scholar.

I recently received a message from one of a parent, who is also a member of our church, referencing the article, Young, black and buried in debt: How for-profit colleges prey on African-American ambition.” In the article, Kai Wright reaffirms the huge financial hole thousands of students find themselves in after having made the wrong college choice, particularly as the result of pursuing their college degree through for-profit colleges:

“Between 2004 and 2010, black enrollment in for-profit bachelor’s programs
grew by a whopping 264 percent, compared to a 24 percent increase in black enrollment in public four-year programs. The two top producers of black baccalaureates in the class of 2011 were University of Phoenix and
Ashford University, both for-profits.

For too many, school has greased the downward slide.
Nearly every single graduate of a for-profit school — 96 percent,
according to a 2008 Department of Education survey — leaves with debt.
The industry ate 25 percent of federal student aid in the
2009–2010 school year. That’s debt its students can’t pay.
The loan default rate among for-profit college students is
more than double that of their peers in both public and
nonprofit private schools, because the degrees and certificates
the students are earning are trap doors to more poverty,
not springboards to prosperity.”

In my book, Show Me the Money: Scholarships, Financial Aid, and Making the Right College Choice,I share the following table as an illustration of just how important it is for students to carefully consider their college choice if they are to receive a degree and avoid thousands of dollars in student loan debt. As you will note from the illustration, private for-profit colleges contribute to the largest amount of annual student loan debt, while students attending such institutions have the lowest graduation rates among all postsecondary institutions.

Before attending college, students and families must do their research!