The report by the Education Trust, a Washington-based education reform advocacy organization, singles out the University of Phoenix, the nation's largest for-profit higher education provider, for criticism.
Just 9% of the students who began as first-year students in 2002 had graduated in 2008 across 42 branches of the university system. At two campuses -- one serving metro Detroit and another serving western Michigan -- the rates were 9% and 8%, respectively.
Nationwide, across all four-year for-profit institutions, the graduation rate was 22%. Rates at public schools are 55%, and 65% at private nonprofit schools.
Manny Rivera, spokesman for the University of Phoenix, said in a statement Tuesday that the report doesn't take into account that the University of Phoenix tends to enroll nontraditional students who "take longer to finish their degrees because they have families and professional obligations."