For-profit colleges have deep roots in American history, but until recently they were a tiny part of the higher education landscape. Now they are big players. More than one in 10 college students attends a for-profit. The rapid rise of these career-oriented schools has provoked heated debate, opening up new conversations about the costs, quality and purpose of higher education. In this documentary, correspondent Emily Hanford examines the history and influence of the University of Phoenix, one of the nation's largest colleges, and explores how Phoenix and other for-profits are shaping the future of higher education.
University of Phoenix founder John Sperling was born poor and built a huge company that made him a billionaire. This is the story of what motivated him to invent a new kind of college -- and why the industry he pioneered is so controversial.
In the debates about the University of Phoenix and other for-profit schools, there is an assumption by some critics that students who choose for-profits have been duped. But many students are savvy consumers who choose for-profits because schools like the University of Phoenix are their best option.
Critics of for-profits are concerned about how fast the industry has been growing, how much money students borrow, high dropout rates and big paychecks for executives. They say the industry targets low-income and military students and has used aggressive and deceptive tactics to get people to sign up.
SUPPORT The Tomorrow's College series is funded by a grant from Lumina Foundation, which is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college, and by a grant from the Spencer Foundation, which is dedicated to the belief that research is necessary to the improvement of education.