Increased Not-For-Profit Online Offerings –

With more not-for-profit colleges and universities penetrating a market that has traditionally been dominated by the for-profit sector, several factors come into play when competing for students.

Research in a recent report by The Parthenon Group’s Education Practice shows that new online offerings, enrollment increases, and growth initiatives have helped not-for-profit schools gain popularity. By taking advantage of strong brand reputations and more online programs, not-for-profits are making themselves quite the competitive threat to for-profit institutions. The increased competition, according to the report, comes from the fact that more not-for-profit schools are entering the online market and targeting the same students.

Included in the report were findings from a survey conducted by Parthenon in July of 800 for-profit and 400 not-for-profit college students who attended fully online programs. Data shows that the student profiles for both not-for-profit and for-profit sectors are nearly identical – 25- to- 49-year-olds earning less than $60,000 with children.

Students in both sectors responded that the main motivators for attending college were related to employment concerns, thus, working adults typically return to school to improve employment prospects.

According to the survey, almost 50% of online students apply only to one school, and the average online student selects a school based mostly on the degree programs offered.

Eleven not-for-profits enroll more than 10,000 students annually, and are primarily inclusive schools that accept most applicants. Most of the selective not-for-profit schools do not offer online learning, making up less than 20% of all online enrollments. This leaves room for growth in that area, the report finds. In fact, many not-for-profit institutions have benefitted from partnerships with online enablers that provide the schools with the tools and support needed to make the transition to online learning.

As more not-for-profits begin to offer online education, some with credits-per-hour priced significantly lower than their for-profit counterparts, students compare based on cost – which is a significant factor. However, brand plays a significant factor as well. The survey found that students are willing to pay $5,000 more in tuition to attend a selective university over an inclusive one.</>

The report author indicates that not-for-profits are in a position in which they can attract more students, if they keep in mind students are considering brand, price, and outcome (return on investment) when searching for schools.

Follow Valerie Jones on Twitter @ValerieJonesCMN