Imagine America Foundation Releases 2010 Fact Book: A Profile of Career Colleges and Universities

Washington, D.C. (September 27, 2010) – The truth about the impact of America's career colleges has been sorely missing from recent Senate hearings involving the practices of “for-profit” schools. Just as the career education sector is once again about to take center stage on Capitol Hill, the Imagine America Foundation has released its annual Fact Book, which presents some compelling research that provides a clear picture of the nation's career colleges and how the labor force is impacted by its graduates.

The Imagine America Foundation's 2010 Fact Book: A Profile of Career Colleges and Universities compares public institutions with private two- and four-year colleges, and features more than 50 pages of research and analysis. The research compiled by JBL Associates, Inc. is broken out into critical areas of impact, presenting data on enrollment, student benefits and outcomes, career college student profiles, default rates, return on investment statistics, and job opportunities for graduates.

"The overall picture of career colleges that the Fact Book creates is one of a vitally important sector of education that fulfills a valuable role in supplying skilled labor to the American work force and offering opportunities to minorities that would otherwise be hard to come by," said Robert L. Martin, President of the Imagine America Foundation.

More than 2.6 million students were enrolled in career colleges during the 2008-2009 academic year. And, about 42 percent of all career institutions participated in Title IV student aid programs. The career college sector serves a diverse student body, and is more likely than the non-profit sector to serve students who are independent, have incomes in the lowest quartile, have parents with an education below the high school level, and are racial or ethnic minorities.

While questions about the value of career education has permeated media reports and Senate hearing testimony, the Fact Book shows that career colleges make a tremendous difference in the lives of its graduates, especially those who are minority or female:

  • Fifty-eight percent of all Hispanic students and almost half (49 percent) of all African American students who received certificates in 2008-09 earned them at a career college.
  • Forty-seven percent of all female students and 28 percent of all male students who received certificates in 2008-09 earned them at a career college.
  • Twenty-four percent of all African American students and 18 percent of all Hispanic students who received Associate degrees in 2008-09 earned them at a career college.

The numbers are just as inspiring on the job front as graduates from career colleges face better opportunities for employment than those students graduating from traditional colleges and universities, particularly in the health, technology and business fields. Career colleges provide training for many of these occupations.

  • One-fourth of career college students are enrolled in high-growth fields, and three-quarters of career college graduates find employment upon graduation.
  • Forty-four percent of career college students are enrolled in high-growth fields, compared with public (18 percent) and private, not-for-profit (13 percent) institutions.
  • Seventy-six percent of career college students who completed an award in 2005 were employed directly following graduation.

The Fact Book also explores the return on investment for taxpayer dollars that fund a career education for some students. According to the research, career college students repay the public cost of their education within five years after graduation and provide an 18 percent annual net return on investment for each public tax dollar spent. Career colleges have been estimated to have an annual total economic impact of $38.6 billion.

On average, it costs taxpayers about $28,072 to enroll a public college student for two years, based on an average annual tuition of $3,233; average annual expenditures of $13,829; average annual local, state and federal grants of $2,110; and average annual loans of $1,330 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student. But comparatively, it costs taxpayers $13,372 to fund a student at a two-year career school or college, assuming average local, average annual state and federal grants of $3,931 and average annual loans of $2,755 per FTE student.

These are a few of the most compelling facts in the Imagine America Foundation's 2010 Fact Book. For more information about the Foundation's Fact Book or to request copies, please contact the Foundation at scholarships@imagine-america.org or 202.336.6800.

About the Imagine America Foundation
The Imagine America Foundation (IAF), established in 1982, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing scholarships for education, research and training support for the career college sector. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided over $40 million in scholarship and award support for graduating high school seniors, adult learners and U.S. military personnel attending career colleges nationwide through its award-winning Imagine America® programs. The Foundation also publishes vital research publications for the higher education sector, honors achievement in career education and offers faculty development training. For more information about the Imagine America Foundation’s programs, please visit www.imagine-america.org.


Contact: Robert L. Martin, Imagine America Foundation President
Phone: (202) 336-6758
E-mail: bobm@imagine-america.org