Questions of Quality

By Paul Fain

Students at for-profit colleges typically have less money and academic preparation than do their peers at other institutions. Those and other risk factors muddy the debate over the sector’s performance, and make it hard to compare with public and private nonprofit colleges.

Existing data sources are too thin to create a definitive comparative analysis of for-profits, said David J. Deming, an assistant professor of education and economics at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. But some clarity emerges in a forthcoming study by Deming and Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, two prominent Harvard economists.

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