New research finds a decline in earnings after for-profit college attendance. Narrowing in on certificate seekers, the analysis suggests higher earnings are to be had from public rather than for-profit education.
According to this analysis of student loan and IRS data for 1.4 million students, those attending for-profit colleges in certificate and degree programs had lower earnings five to six years out than prior to enrollment. The analysis is compelling because this population of students was likely to be employed prior to entering school, so a comparison can be made.
Do students fare better at public institutions? The researchers found that, for certificate-seeking students, post-attendance earnings were higher for public college students than for those at for-profit schools.
Completion is critical, no matter what type of institution an individual attends: Much of the earnings decline found in this study is due to failure to complete, impacted by student loan debt. The researchers also point out that their study period—students who enrolled in 2006 through 2008—was right at the start of the recession; therefore, post-attendance wages may have been lower anyway.