Once the hottest things in higher education, private, for-profit colleges and universities have suddenly found themselves on the business equivalent of academic probation.
The for-profits –– which range from beauty colleges and truck-driving schools to industry behemoth the University of Phoenix — enjoyed booming enrollment, which more than tripled from 1991 to 2011, and annual profits in the billions, corporate earnings reports and other sources show.
But after years of criticism over purportedly fraudulent claims, high costs, and shady recruiting practices, the for-profits have seen deep declines in their numbers of students and been forced to slash tuition. Some have shut down or announced layoffs, and states are stepping up enforcement against questionable practices by others. <Read more.>