Affordable colleges: a new tool for cost comparison

By , Correspondent

3. For-profit institutions

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    Everest University work study volunteer, Brandy Richmond, center, consults with a client at the Emergency Care Health Organization (ECHO) in Brandon, Florida on September 22, 2010. Everest University and Everest College have campuses across the country, two of which are near the top of the list of for-profit institutions with the lowest net cost.
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Average: $23,057

Lowest: National American University-Ellsworth AFB, S.D. – $2,785

Highest: Brooks Institute, Santa Barbara, Calif. – $51,223

For-profit institutions have been under fire in Washington lately by lawmakers who question whether their high cost is fair to students. And they do cost more – their average net cost is about twice as high as public 4-year institutions and about 20 percent higher than private institutions.

National American University has 25 locations in nine states, and the one in Ellsworth AFB, S.D., takes the prize for the cheapest of any 4-year for-profit institution in the country. In the most recent count, 329 students were enrolled there. Other institutions with the lowest prices are the Springfield, Mo., campus of Everest College, which costs $6,860 and National American University’s Colorado Springs, Co., campus, which costs $9,814. The Jacksonville, Fla., campus of Everest University (which is owned by the same parent company as Everest College), takes the No. 4 spot for lowest cost at $9,821.

The most expensive for-profit institution has the highest average net cost of any 4-year institution in the country. Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara Calif., which costs an average of $51,223, enrolls 949 and has programs that focus on visual media, new media, and communications. Others at the top of the list: Sanford-Brown College in Vienna, Va., which costs $49,321, The Art Institute of Charleston, in Charleston, S.C., which costs $45,006, and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, Ariz., which costs $44,966.

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