After regulatory bump, Strayer paces for-profit industry uptick
- Inside Higher Ed profiled the resurgence of Strayer University, which nearly six years after announcing a moratorium on expansion, will open its first new campus since 2012. The university's planned growth follows signs delivered by the Trump administration and education leaders in Congress for deregulation of enrollment and post-graduate outcomes for students at for-profit institutions.
- Strayer officials say the university's growth in a for-profit sector that has been defined in recent years by collapsing institutions is due to a willingness to cut tuition prices and to maintain on-site locations near their students. Even as enrollment in for-profit schools was plummeting, Strayer remained front of mind for eager learners. "The campuses help us select a more serious student," said Strayer CEO Karl McDonnell. "We were somewhat surprised that it was true even among students who have never taken a class on campus [but live within 25 miles of one]. The only logical answer is the campus facility itself must help us attract a higher-quality student."
- Strayer is also bolstered by ongoing conversations on Capitol Hill about Higher Education Act reauthorization, which would redefine non and for-profit schools and erase many sanctions instituted under the Obama administration against for-profit schools that were then described as predatory in their enrollment practices and post-graduation career promises.
Strayer and other for-profits committed to a simple business model oversaturated the marketplace with advertising, promoting low-selectivity and convenience of access. Prior to the Obama administration's rulemaking on predatory institutions, it was proving to be the best model to keep the higher education bubble from bursting.
Now that the Trump administration is looking to reverse many of the rules that targeted for-profits and other institutions that attracted low-income and marginal students, and these schools may see an uptick in interest and enrollment. Congress passed a spending bill that awards more money through Pell Grants, funding for child care subsidies, and funding for a pilot program to develop resources to access online learning materials.
Strayer's patience, commitment to pacing itself with enrollment and growth, and its degree offerings in key areas like nursing and health services administration helped the institution to stay afloat during turbulent times. Now the company will use deregulation and the promise of increased financial aid revenues to expand its brand. Will traditional institutions be willing to follow the same roadmap for growth?