One student was told that the $14,000 she’d have to pay for a certificate in massage therapy would be a good deal, but GAO investigators found that a local community college offered the same certificate program for $520. A medical assisting certificate was about $12,000 at another for-profit college, $9,307 at a nearby private nonprofit college, and $3,990 at a local public college. A web design certificate in Pennsylvania would cost a student at one for-profit $21,250, versus $4,750 at a local private nonprofit college and $2,037 at a local public college.
On average, for the five colleges visited by GAO, it cost between 6 and 13 times more to obtain an associate’s degree at a for-profit than at a public college.
Even more shocking: the attrition rate. The University of Phoenix reports that under thirty percent of its two-year students graduate, according to a recent Marketplace exposé.