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Higher-Profit Education

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Grades for pay at U. Phoenix, DeVry.

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Imagine trying to chat up a hottie at a bar by saying, "I've got a degree from the University of Phoenix."

Listen up, all you aspiring Don Juans: A degree from a for-profit university has no cachet. The sector survives by scooping up as many Federal student loan dollars as it possibly can. Uncle Sam won a multi-million dollar settlement from the University of Phoenix (APOL) for overly aggressive recruiting.

So, naturally, the for-profit education sector is booming and now enrolls about a million students nationwide.

The money-making enterprises don't offer ivy-covered walls, football teams or endless bull sessions at the student union. They do, however, fill a need.

Traditional 4-year schools are pegged to kids right out of high school or, at most, young adults studying on the GI Bill. The full-time schedule at most public or private universities isn't pegged to adults with a full-time job and kids - and generally makes no attempt to accommodate folks who live in the real world.

The University of Phoenix now enrolls about 313,700 students, or more than 10 times the enrollment of the University of California at Berkeley. The for-profit school operates 102 campuses and 157 learning centers in 40 states, the District of Columbia and overseas. It offers degree programs ranging from the Associate of Arts to Master's of Business Administration. It provides Internet study through the University of Phoenix Online.

The University of Phoenix began in 1976 as a night school where police and firefighters could complete undergraduate degrees and quickly grew. Apollo Group's subsidiaries include the College for Financial Planning Institutes, Western International University, the Institute for Professional Development and Insight Schools, a provider of online high school programs. In 2007, Apollo Group earned $408.8 million on revenue of $2.7 billion. In 2003, the company earned $235.8 million on revenue of $1.3 billion.
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