Full Sail University is a private college specializing in art, entertainment and media degrees, including but not limited to game design, mobile development, film recording arts and even internet marketing.
They were established in 1979 and are located in Winter park, Florida. However, while they maintain an on campus population of just over 21,000 students per year, they also provide degree programs that are entirely online, giving students the option to attend FUll Sail virtually from home.
All that being said, there school has gotten a bad reputation, and many will go so far as to say that Full Sail University is a scam. But is that true?
In this article I’ll investigate the reasoning behind some of these claims and perhaps give you a better idea if you should consider attending or take your money elsewhere.
For-Profit vs Nonprofit Colleges
The biggest complaint people have with this college is that unlike most major universities in this country which are non-profit (think your typical state university or community college), Full Sail is for-profit, meaning they operate more like a business and come with investors who expect to make money.
Non-profit colleges receive their money from a variety of sources including donations, the government and of course tuition fees. However, a large portion of the money goes back into the school, whereas for-profits are focused on profiting for themselves and shareholders.
This translates into non-profit schools being much more affordable, as for-profits can’t rely on third party sources to keep tuition prices lower, therefore they won’t skip a beat to raise them in order to increase profits.
In addition to the price difference, for-profit schools are also more specialized, offering tailored courses for specific degree tracks (like vocational schools) whereas non-profits typically offer a variety of classes and degree tracks within each school..
Accreditation issues – Regional vs National
The second issue lies within accreditation. While Full Sail is an accredited school, they’re not regionally accredited like most other schools, they’re nationally accredited with the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Basically the issue comes into play when students want to transfer colleges or continue their education with a master’s degree program at another school. While the credits can transfer between national and regional accreditation, it is more difficult and often times schools simply won’t recognize the credits at all. This means your options for transferring schools are very limited and you may have to retake the classes at another school.
This is one of the most common complaints about Full Sail, (aside from the high pricing and for-profit standing) but obviously is only an issue if you plan to transfer or attend a masters program. Knowing what you want BEFORE you enroll is crucial.
The tuition costs of FSU are pretty high. The prices vary by degree program, but for an associates program that can be completed in 1 year (the programs are accelerated) the approximate price is 28,000 for online and 31,000 for on campus. For a 2 year bachelor’s program, the cost ranges from 54,00 (online) to 74,000 (on campus).
There’s also an additional free not included for many of the degree programs that can add as much as 3,000 to the price (this includes things like software, equipment and a Mac laptop, depending on your degree program).
Considering these are 1 and 2 year programs, that’s quite a hefty price tag if you ask me.
Specialty degrees – know what you want out of it
Like mentioned earlier, Full Sail is a specialty school that offers degree programs within the entertainment arts such as game design, computer animation, mobile development, recording arts, film and web design and development (plus more).
They even offer speciality online programs like web marketing, although if you read my article about internet marketing degrees, I wouldn’t recommend them because in many cases they’re just overpriced and unnecessary.
The most important thing is to know exactly what you want to do. From there, make sure you properly research to know if you 1) actually need a degree for your desired job, 2) if there are real jobs available for newer graduates within the field and 3) if there are jobs available within the geographic range you are willing to live in.
It is worth noting also that there’s been quite a few complaints filed with the BBB about Full Sail. Most of them seem to be misunderstandings in communication between the student and guidance counselors, sort of a he said/she said type deal… but you can give them a read here if you want to read them in detail.
The bottom line – scam or not?
While many like to classify Full Sail as a scam of sorts, I don’t know if I’d really take it that far. They’re a legit business operating perfectly legally. The most important thing you can do is properly educate yourself on how exactly the university works, what it offers and if it’d be a good fit for you and your needs.
I can tell you that it’s most definitely is not a good fit for many, particularly those looking to transfer later on, those who aren’t willing to complete their education at such an accelerated rate or who aren’t willing to pay the high tuition price.
But the fact can’t be ignored that the less than desirable job market and rising tuition prices have left many graduates of any college in massive debt and flipping burgers. Trust me, as a bachelor’s degree holder myself who couldn’t find a job after graduation I know the struggle is real.
There’s many who want to blame Full Sail for not being able to find a job after graduation, and I’m not sure placing the blame on the college is the right move. The struggle exists no matter what school you attend. As long as people are willing to pay the sky high prices of tuition, universities like this will stay in business.