The New York Times reports that many laid-off, right-sized, downsized and fired workers are looking to technical colleges and other training programs to develop new skills that will, they hope, lead to long-term job security.
The Times piece mentions 25-year old Jonathan Beam, who enrolled in a course at Everest College to become an electrician. The reporter notes that "The course, which he has nearly completed, runs nine months and costs $14,000. Much of that is covered by a grant and loans, he said."
Then it tells the story of Amy Sutton, a former real estate agent who is taking classes at Everest as well with the goal of finding a job in the health care field -- at a cost of $10,000.
I have a piece of advice that is really a prayer. I am begging you: Please. please, please call up your local community college to inquire about programs it offers before you even think about signing up with one of these for-profit shops like Everest College. Devry University, another for-profit institution, is offering $1,000 per semester "employment gap scholarships" to people who have been laid off recently.
But even with that, community colleges are cheaper because they receive a large amount of public funding and pay no taxes. For-profits receive no direct public funding (although they can sometimes participate in the same student loan programs non-profit institutions do), have a higher cost of capital, pay taxes, and must report profits to shareholders.
It isn't that for-profit colleges are evil. It's just that they're at a huge competitive disadvantage compared with publicly-funded institutions, and if money matters to you, you should start with public resources first.
Amy Sutton is paying $10,000 to for a one-year medical assistant program in Portland, Oregon. Portland Community College also offers a nationally accredited one-year certificate program in medical assisting and it's priced at less than $4,700 -- 43 credit hours at $76.10 per hour plus books, membership dues, licensing costs and other assorted fees. If you're out of work you already know this, but $5,300 isn't chump change and it could be the difference between paying cash and having to enter the dangerous world of student loans.
Out of work and looking to retrain? Avoid for-profit technical colleges