The proprietary school sector: a demographic and financial aid profile

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this study was to answer several questions concerning distribution of student financial aid in the proprietary school sector. The study was conducted in the Spring of 1989 using a Fall, 1986, nationally representative sample of 3,837 students attending less than two-year and two-year proprietary schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The sample was drawn as part of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS) conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics in the 1986/87 academic year. Data came from edited NPSAS tapes dated May 12, 1988.

Several statistical procedures from the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) and Lotus 1-2-3 were used to answer research questions related to (1) types of educational services provided by proprietary schools, (2) types of students receiving financial aid; and, (3) types of aid packages distributed in these schools.

Several of the major results are: (1) Proprietary schools provided short-term, high-cost vocational training leading to relatively low-paying entry-level jobs. (2) Over four-fifths (84%) of the students received financial aid. The majority of these students were unmarried (74%), female (67%), less than 23 years of age (52%), lived off-campus (98%) and attended school on a full—time basis (81%). Nearly one-half (48%) of dependent and 70 percent of independent recipients had incomes of less than $20,000. About 30 percent lacked a high school diploma. Almost 43% percent were from minority backgrounds with over 70 percent having incomes under $11,000. (3) Nearly 80 percent of the recipients received either a single source of aid or two sources of aid in their aid packages. About 88 percent of this aid came from the federal government with the Guaranteed Student Loan and Pell Grant programs the predominate sources.