Teachers College, Columbia University

For-Profit Higher Education and Community Colleges

By Thomas Bailey, Norena Badway & Patricia J. Gumport

This report addresses contemporary concerns about the competitive threat from for-profit educational institutions, contrasts national data on for-profits with national data on private nonprofit and public postsecondary institutions, and examines case study data comparing a for-profit chain to three public community colleges located near branches of the chain.

As a group, the for-profits are concentrated in a limited number of business and technical fields. Although they may compete with community colleges in those specific areas, the small size of the for-profit sector will limit the overall competitive effect. Moreover, some of the four-year for-profit institutions target upper division students and actively recruit community college graduates, so in this sense, these institutions are complements rather than competitors to community colleges.

The authors found important differences between the two types of institutions and suggest that community colleges may find lessons in for-profit institutions' emphasis on customer service, extensive support for job placement, and degree completion rates.

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