What’s the difference between non-profit and for profit colleges?

by LBC Marketing

April 6, 2018

Posted: April 6, 2018

What’s the difference between non-profit and for profit colleges?

by LBC Marketing
Posted in: Other

If you’re looking into colleges, there’s a lot you need to consider. Does the university have the degree or program you’re looking? What’s the tuition rate like? Is there financial aid available? Do you want to live on campus or off? Is the cafeteria food any good, or are they just pulling out all the stops for visitors?

You get the idea. The list is almost never-ending.

But here’s one thing you might not have thought about: do you want to go to a non-profit college or a for-profit college – and what’s the difference?


First, you should know that Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate school is a non-profit college and is registered as a 501(c)(3) organization. Like all not-for-profit organizations, non-profit colleges must fundraise to meet their budget. This is accomplished through a number of means: private donations, federal grants, planned giving, and more. This helps non-profit schools keep tuition rates lower.

In contrast, for-profit schools operate more like traditional businesses, and must focus on earning revenue by enrolling students or selling educational products to keep the business afloat. According to a CNN article from 2016, sometimes for-profit colleges and universities are also publicly held – which means they have shareholders to answer to.


Most non-profit colleges, like Lancaster Bible College, are regionally accredited and sometimes also nationally accredited. According to an article from U.S. News & World Report, regional accreditation is “preferred among employers and other universities if a student transfers.” For example, LBC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (the same organization that gives accreditation to Penn State University) and is nationally accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Many consider regional accreditation to be the “gold standard” of accreditation.

Some for-profit colleges are also regionally accredited – a huge benefit to the student – but that is not always the case. This can put the student at a disadvantage, depending on the career path they take. Some employers will not recognize a degree that is not regionally accredited (this can become an issue for education majors in certain states seeking to become certified teachers). Graduates of non-regionally accredited institutions may also face barriers when applying to graduate programs because of this.


Like any other business, for-profit universities are aiming to turn a profit. Of course, these institutions want their students to have an exceptional experience, but at the end of the year, they need to be in the black to keep operating.

In contrast, non-profit institutions are working to serve their students, not shareholders. And Lancaster Bible College takes it one step further: we want to serve God, first and foremost. As our mission statement has put it since 1933, We aim to educate Christian students to think and live a biblical worldview and to proclaim Christ by serving Him in the Church and society.

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