So-called “for-profit colleges” are facing tough times and government investigations. I say: Good.

Perhaps you saw the TV commercials for Everest College over the past few years. “Why don’t you make a phone call that’s going to help you in your future?” one of them implored. “Why are you making it complicated? It’s easy.”

Last week wasn’t easy for Everest College. It was accused of deceit from Seattle to South Florida and had to close many of its campuses as part of a settlement with the federal government.

But it’s not just Everest. As The New York Times reported Friday, “Education Management Corporation, ITT Educational Services and Career Education Corporation, among other familiar names, are also facing investigations.”

It’s about time.  There is seldom a good reason to attend a for-profit college.

What exactly are for-profit colleges?

When most students head off to college, they attend either a public university (say, the University of Alabama, home of the national football champions) or a private one (I attended two: the University of Miami and American University in Washington, D.C.)

Most of these schools are decades or even centuries old, and they have a track record you can research: How many students actually graduate? What kinds of jobs do those graduates get? What’s the average cost of tuition, dorms, and meals per year?

For-profit colleges are different. They’re essentially businesses out to make money — as all businesses should. Problem is, they often charge more for the same education you can get at public institutions.

That’s not just my opinion.  Last summer, a U.S. Senate committee issued a scathing report that charged for-profit colleges with “exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars spent on marketing and pocketed as profit, and regulatory evasion and manipulation.”

How can I get a good education at the right price?

The TV commercials from for-profit colleges are enticing. They appeal to hard-working Americans who don’t have a lot of money to spare on tuition, or who have been working in the “real world” for years and want to replace their job with a career.

And let me be clear: Not all for-profit colleges are as bad as that Senate committee reported.

But if you’re looking to go to college to improve the quality of your life — and not to party or go to football games — then you have some money-saving options. Check out Making College Affordable.

But if you don’t have time to do that, at least consider these Top 2 pieces of advice I’ve seen work for my Consolidated Credit customers…

1. Going to a cheaper community college. The simple truth is, even if you seek an advanced degree, your first two years are just to get your associate degree. And some states, like California, will guarantee your transfer to certain four-year schools if you get good grades and meet other requirements. At the same time, many community colleges are starting to offer four-year degrees.

2. Applying for scholarships. Did you know there are $6 billion worth of scholarships out there? Yes, with a B! Finding them is a website away. Check out the College Board’s Scholarship Search tool.

Bottom line: You have to pay for college, but you don’t have to pay as much as some schools insist you do.

Howard Dvorkin is a CPA and chairman of, an educational resource for those who want to conquer all forms of debt in their lives.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched I’m glad you’re here.

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