College payment plans run help for-profit companies stay in business


On a muggy June morning in 2019, administrators from for-profit colleges took their seats in breakout rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency in downtown New Orleans. They had arrived for the Career Education Colleges and Universities trade association’s annual convention and were getting ready to choose from dozens of sessions. One promised tips on how to market to Millennials, another offered advice on how to handle legal threats from disgruntled students.

Later that evening, amid cocktails and music, exhibitors made their direct pitches to administrators, hoping to earn their business. That’s where tuition financing companies set up shop, with the aim of attracting new clients with strategies to help for-profit colleges boost their enrollment numbers and bottom lines.

These companies, such as TFC Tuition Financing and Tuition Options, have positioned themselves as crucial cogs in the for-profit education industry—playing a critical role in powering the sector financially. When students enroll and can’t pay the full tuition right away, these companies help colleges offer payment options, such as installment plans or private loans.

Hidden Debt Trap

There’s a whole world of student debt that no one is talking about. In fact, most people don’t even realize it exists. Millions of students have racked up billions of dollars in debt owed directly to their own colleges and universities. 

We’re investigating this hidden debt.

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