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FTC settlement against University of Phoenix

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Most people go to college to earn a degree and get a good job. In a competitive job market, it helps to have connections. So when a college or university claims it has relationships with well-known employers, that may convince you to attend. But beware: Claims like this may be a ploy to attract new students — and your tuition dollars. In fact, the FTC says that’s just what one for-profit university did as part of an extensive advertising campaign.

In a proposed settlement announced today, the FTC says that for-profit University of Phoenix, and its parent company, Apollo Education Group, Inc., falsely claimed that their relationships with top companies created job opportunities specifically for Phoenix students and deceptively claimed they worked with these companies to develop courses. 

FTC settlement with University of Phoenix

The FTC says that University of Phoenix used a multi-media ad campaign to attract students, including ads specifically targeted to military and Hispanic consumers. The companies’ “Let’s Get to Work” campaign featured several high-profile employers, including Microsoft, Twitter, Adobe, and Yahoo!, giving the false impression that UOP worked with those companies to create job opportunities for its students.

As part of the $191 million settlement, the companies will return $50 million in cash to former students and cancel $141 million in student debt owed directly to the school. The proposed order prohibits the companies from further deceptive business practices. In addition, it requires them to ask consumer reporting agencies to delete the debts from people’s credit reports, give notice to those who got debt cancellation, and make sure people have access to their diplomas and transcripts.

Before enrolling in school, it’s important to do your homework. You can get important information about any school at the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator. For example, if you enter a school’s name, you can find out if it’s public or private, for-profit or non-profit, its accreditation status, and its student loan default rates.

Also, check out what are people are saying about schools you’re considering. Search online for the school’s name plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”

If you’re looking to advance your education, do your homework to be sure you know what you’re paying for. Check out Choosing a College: Questions to Ask.

Added on December 19, 2019: The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million University of Phoenix settlement with the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Comments

I was one of the people that believed their false advertising, got my masters degree in counseling there and never was able to find the job they promised. I don’t work in the field, I have over 80k in student debt (that started at 22k- I don’t even know how it multiplied 4 times). How can I keep up with settlement news? It would be good to have that shark student loan forgiven especially that I never use my “education”

I attended Phoenix from 2011 and graduated in 2015 I i didn't get a job as promised and ended up with debt and paid money to the school I was having personal crises and ended. Up homeless now I'm a graduate with a degree and no job it just piece of paper that lead me nowhere I was promised if I stayed in school and finished it would change my life with a career in my field now I have to go back to another college and start over it not fair for the Government to have to pay the debt that they falsely created or the students because of false advertisements and false promises. My question is how do the students receive compensation do we need to file a class action lawsuit?

Under the settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix, the University will cancel $141 million in debts that are owed directly to the school by people who first enrolled at the school between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

The University will cancel debts owed directly to the school whether they were charged as fees or some other kind of charge. The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled. The University will contact the people who are eligible for debt cancellation. You don't need to file anything.

The University also paid $50 million to the FTC as part of the settlement. The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million the University paid to the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. Please sign up here like to get email updates from the FTC about this settlement.

How can we ensure University of Phoenix or FTC has our updated contact information i.e number, address, email?

I attended University of Phoenix within that time frame, and have yet to be contacted. Please advise. Thank you,

I haven't heard anything either and I attended during that time frame.

I attended during that time but since my loans were federally funded this lawsuit doesn't apply. Its completely unfair.

The University will cancel debts owed directly to the school whether they were charged as fees or some other kind of charge. The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled. The University will contact the people who are eligible for debt cancellation. You don't need to file anything.

The University also paid $50 million to the FTC as part of the settlement. The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million the University paid to the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. Please sign up here like to get email updates from the FTC about this settlement.

What is going to be done for the students that have student loans that they are paying for? Are they exempt in getting their loans forgiven because the student didn’t pay their money directly to the school?

my boyfriend and i each got an email regarding this and i just sent the information requested today. when will we hear about how much each of us gets, when we should get it and how? can everyone be told a number amount of the settlement? like, how much each?

Just curious, did you receive an email from the FTC, or UOP?

I got an email notifying me that my information will be sent to the FTC and that if I don't want that done, I need to opt out... Um NO... I want confirmation that the poor/pathetic excuse of education was them and not me. They don't have just deceptive advertising an promises, the online education is a joke and I fully believe it triggered my medical issues. I better read that email again to make sure they aren't trying to have me choose wrong... again. I wish this and other schools like them would be shut down.

That is my question as well I still have an outstanding amount due to the US Dept of Education that I am slowly paying off but incurring interest quicker.

check your email. or your school email... mine was found in my regular email account

I attended UOP from 1998-2002. The practice of not providing job assistance or being misleading goes back to when I attended school. Will any of the settlement award go that far back? In addition, the school added a course to our graduation requirement after we had applied for financial aid. Because it was only one course, we were not considered full time students and were not qualified for financial aid to cover that last course.

I'm in a similar situation; graduated from University of Phoenix with an AAB in 2008. I've been paying on a $32,000 student loan debt for years and the balance only keeps increasing. The worst part about University of Phoenix is that they claim you will get a first-rate education and have many opportunities for good paying jobs. I just saw a commercial for them just the other day and it made me sick. It showed a young woman studying from home with her baby. Sick. Men and women like her are going to end up thousands of dollars in debt for a degree that isn't worth the paper it's written on. I'm working the same jobs I could have gotten with a high school diploma and none of the debt. I'm currently trying to find out if there are any options for people who were ripped off by the University of Phoenix prior to 2012. I don't understand how the UOP continually is able to get away with targeting poor people, ex-military who didn't fall under either GI Bill, and working parents and saddling them with debt that only makes their lives more difficult instead of better.

I feel you completely, I feel I have gained zero knowledge, I feel like an imposter with a degree , that is frowned upon. With an exaggerated debt of $44,000 and growing . Unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. I enrolled in a Business Management Degree course in 2008 and graduated in 2010 . Since then no job that would get me where I needed to be . I’m without words regarding this school, I’ve contacted the FTC regarding this so called school. I hope that our story has merit on what we speak.

How do we find out if we qualify for this debt forgiveness? I owe University of Phoenix over $80,000

What if you took out a federal student loan?

The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million University of Phoenix settlement with the FTC. You don’t have to apply or submit a claim to get a payment. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

The Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education has information about repaying student loans at www.StudentLoans.gov.

I was enrolled during that time, never got to attend any classes because the school dropped me, but they didn't "officially" drop me until 3 wks into the course so they still billed me. I fought it for years and finally just paid the debt because it was effecting my credit. ironically I filed a complaint through BBB a week ago because UOP still hadn't updated my credit for over a year and requested they REMOVE it altogether. some guy emailed me directly and it was removed....but im still out what I paid for a false debt. can I be reimbursed under this settlement?

I had the same issue and I’m trying to figure out how to dispute this $400 fee they sent to collection. I already graduated and got my degree but was dumb enough to start my mba there. When I requested to be dropped out from my first class, they end up charging me for it. Can you update me if you get any new responses on your case?? Thank you!

What if your account went to collections during the specified time period but you paid the collection in full to have the amount removed from your credit. Will those funds be reimbursed back as well?

So does this apply to federal student loans paid to Apollo/Phoenix?
Your response doesn’t seem to address that unless it’s part of the “charges” certain or other ways

The settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix does not affect students' private loans or federal government loans.

Will students still be eligible for a refund if their tuition was paid through a loan? It’s clear that the loan itself will not be affected, but will the student be eligible to receive funds to then repay the loan?

What happens in the event a students account is not identified but the student can show time of attendance? Will the student be able to provide that information, so he or she can be included in this?

Do you know when and how FTC would reach out to students? I already gotten the email from UOP about the information needed to submit to FTC because of this lawsuit. But when would be the turn around time for FTC to reach out to students?

I attended during this time and we should all be refunded in total no matter what type of loan we had. UOP are the ones who obtained my loan for me. I want all of my money back. Is there a way we can all keep in contact so we can follow this together and help each other out? I only received an email so far from UOP stating that the FTC was requesting my info and that’s it.

I got a call and was extremely dismissive because I thought it was a scam. I would like to communicate directly with the FTC because I do not think the information I gave was accurate. How can I resolve this? Any help is much appreciated, thank you.

This is the first bit of information I have been able to find on the settlement. I am currently $54,657 in debt due to the school opening up 15 loans in my name. They tried to get me to pay 600 of it today through fed loan. I have had harassing phone calls from them since I finished my bachelors. I also had issues with a teacher who gave me a grade that did not fit the work I did. I had gotten my final assignment done on time, I stayed up well past 24 hours trying to finish a group assignment that was late by deadline 3 hours. My teacher gave me a 0 for my personal assignment and said I did not turn it in on time but then proceeded to give me full credit for the group assignment that was late and shouldnt have been graded (my classmates in my group would not help and would not call me back, I told my instructor and she would not help me) and I had to take the class again because, the C I made did not fit the criterea I needed for my GPA at my current school. I went to UOP from 2012-2017. I need to know what I need to do to make sure I am covered in this because I can not afford to pay what they are asking and I have 3 children to feed and bills that take up my income. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, I also moved back to my home town so I dont know if I need to call the school to update my address or if I need to talk to someone else about that in a different department. I honestly feel like this school needs to just forgive every loan they have done and shut down because they were terrible when it came to helping with finances and handling teachers who weren't doing their jobs right. They lied to every student when they said our credits would be accepted at other schools as well, because other school barely accept them, and do not even see UOP as a school. Had I known what I know now I would have made different decisions when going to school but now I'm scared that even when I do finish my Masters program and decide to start my Doctorate program that I will have no credibility in my field because of this. Helllpppp!

I enrolled in 2009 and completed my first 60 credits there. Transferred to a well known 4 year University in 2012, and graduated with honors (similar to how many students attend a community college first). Like many, I was spoon fed the load of garbage regarding professional connections, reasonable tuition, and career opportunities once I obtained a degree. Fortunately (and also sadly), I was taken aside by several instructors who advised me that graduating from a more reputable school would be in my best interest. I say fortunately, because I found this out before I had spent too much time at UoP until it would have been too late to transfer. I say sadly, because it is terrible that even their paid staff feel this way. It was a cruel wake up call to the real world in terms of how easy it is to be taken advantage of and misled, especially from an institution that you would hope to trust and expect to be guiding you toward a better future - especially when they are a for-profit school. The cost of their classes are way over and above what would be considered fair in comparison to most other Universities, and the student never sees the difference between the Fedloan amount and the class costs The school keeps all extra monies, making sure their charges conveniently balance out the loan distribution.

I would like compensation in the form of debt forgiveness for the time I spent there, although because I fall out of the time frame parameters of the settlement, I doubt it will happen. I have submitted my email address to be notified of any helpful information.

I went to the University of Phoenix, will I get a refund?

Under the settlement, the University of Phoenix will cancel $141 million in debts certain former students owe to the school. Those former students first enrolled during the time period people were probably exposed to the school's deceptive advertising.

University of Phoenix will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled. Read the press release for more information.

We will publish details about the FTC refund process on www.consumer.ftc.gov when it's available.

Any idea what enrollment years we are talking about on the loan forgiveness?

Under the settlement, the University of Phoenix will cancel $141 million in debts of people who first enrolled during the period starting October 1, 2012 and ending December 31, 2016, during the time people were probably exposed to the school's deceptive advertising. The University will cancel debts that people owe directly to the school. The debts will be forgiven whether they were charged as fees or some other kind of charge.

University of Phoenix will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

So, only students who owe the school directly? Not student loans that are owed due tio attending UOP?

I got an email stating they sent the government some money for my federal student loan. My taxes paid off my federal loan last year. Am I going to get my money back now?

Who did you get the email from? UOP? FTC? I enrolled during these time frames and took out fed loans I’m order to pay for my classes so I’m hoping that I will get my fed loans paid off due to UOP misleading people to enroll. I remember the advertisements and I fell victim to their false information.

What about before 2012 i graduated in 2009 i should be included as well theu promised us jobs and i still have not found one

I'm wondering about this too. I finished some time in November 2011. I wasn't a victim of this particular advertising but I was told they had career services and all but guaranteed on paper that they helped students get jobs. It took a year or so probably to get anything, and only because I was friends with a manager. I got an IT degree and have a long history of doing that on a personal level, but my first interview for an IT position they literally laughed when they saw this school's name.

Not only did the school not help, they steered me towards forbearance rather than a payment plan, while still trying to get me to do a bachelor's with them. They behaved like telemarketers working in sales, for multiple years.

Yes what about those of us that graduated before 2012. We were also promised the same thing and I still owe over 70K in debt. I feel like my degree is a laughing stock. When companies see the Univ of Phoenix it is as if anyone can get one of those degrees.

I started in 2009 graduated in 2012 then continued for my bachelors degree. Gotta be some relief in that?

Exactly, I enrolled in 2010 and was misled into enrolling. I was promised a job as well

I was enrolled during those years for two degrees and not working in the field, I did get financial aid I am not sure if that applies?

Yes. I just received news mine had been canceled

Was your financial aid through a federal loan? Or through another private loan?

I enrolled in Dec 2010 my graduation date was 2014. Would this include me since I attended during this time period? Or did I have to start my enrollment in Oct 2012?

How can i check and see if my loans will be forgiven i was in school during that period?

The settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix does not affect loans that students got from the federal government or private lenders.

Under the settlement, the University will cancel $141 million in debts that are owed directly to the school by people who first enrolled at the school between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016. The University will cancel debts owed directly to the school whether they were charged as fees or some other kind of charge.

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