For-profit private colleges promise to prepare students for employment in fields such as nursing, auto repair, computer technology or cosmetology. Although the programs work for some students, others have complained of paying high tuition to schools that provided inadequate training and gave them unrealistic expectations about future job prospects. Before you enroll, consider these tips from California's Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education:
•To see whether the for-profit college you're considering meets California standards, visit the bureau's website at http://www.bppe.ca.gov and search the directory of "approved schools." To check a national database of accredited programs, visit the U.S. Department of Education site at ope.ed.gov/accreditation.
•Obtain a copy of the enrollment agreement from the college and carefully look over all the terms, including costs, conditions and disclosures of student rights and responsibilities. Check the refund policy. "Any fee or charge that is not refundable should be identified as non-refundable," the BPPE said.
•If you're planning to enter a field where a state license is necessary, be sure to check with the appropriate licensing agency to see if the school you're considering is approved. For example, California's Board of Registered Nursing must approve nursing schools. Classes from unapproved colleges will not qualify you to take the licensing test.
•Ask the school for its student performance fact sheet, an official document filed with the state that shows the school's graduation rate and job placement rate for particular study programs. Some schools have these available on their websites.
•Consider whether a local community college may offer the same training at a lower price. Visit http://www.cccapply.org to check community college offerings in California.