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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 attend the university around this time frame and just recently graduated. I have yet to hear any talk of this from the university. All I have is student debt and a degree with a concentration tied to it, but refused to include that concentration on my bachelors certificate, which was very upsetting and disheartening! If this article is almost a year old (December 2019), why have is students/victims not heard anything via mail, email nor by phone???

What is the ETA? We would really like some timelines moving forward. When will this money be distributed? It’s been a year.

UOP has been using This tactic for longer than that. I was a student in 2008 and I was told I would "be on the fast track to a fabulous career" when I graduated... somehow it was only noted 4 years later? Funny how that works! Now I have $40,000 in debt & no degree because of a clerical error when I dropped a class.

I have an issue with the fact that this settlement is only benefitting students from 2012-16, considering I attended from 2010-2011 and experienced the same issues that are being fought against now. Why are we being excluded when we too are struggling to find work and have an exorbitant amount of student debt as a result of the false promises that were made to us as well? Who’s going to fight for us?

I am in the same bolt as you. I was enrolled from 2008- 2010. How can we actually talk to someone about it?

I was enrolled during the same time frame and feel we are being cheated just because we enrolled prior to 2012, but yet we experienced the same problems... yet we are having to suck it up and pay our debts... if only we could afford lawyers then maybe all would be heard and dealt with accordingly...

Same here! I attended from 2004-2008 and they lied to us back than too!

What about students that were enrolled before 2012?

The FTC is sending payments to people who meet four eligibility criteria. One of the criteria is that the person first enrolled in a masters, bachelors, or associates degree program at The University of Phoenix between October 15, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

Go to www.FTC.gov/UoP to read more about the payments.

I'm sort of confused! I remember when I called the school around May 2012 because of advertisements I had seen on television. When I called I spoke to an adviser who sold me dreams , she even sent me documents that showed if I graduate in this field I could get certain types of jobs, making a significant amount of money , they will help with resumes and they will help you obtain a career due to the connections they have with many organizations. Now, hearing this information I signed up but tragedy happened that I was not able to attend. She called me or emailed me every other day to see if I was ready to move forward to the next step. This went on for about 2 months and then she got me registered to start in August 2012. That being said, I started my Bachelors in 2012 and completed that degree in 2014. Then I receive letter stating that I could continue and obtain my Masters therefore, I did. I started that program in January 2015 and completed that degree October 2016. Now, what' s confusing is that I was enrolled in UOP for 2 terms which both are within the time-frame (October 2012- December 2016). But when I called the number you all provided I'm told I don't qualify...confusing...

This FTC blog from March 2021 explains who is eligible for a payment. 

I was enrolled during that time and have not heard anything regarding the debt forgiveness. Does this forgive the loans that we had taken out to attend their online university? I did receive a very small check for the settlement which I am grateful for but does not compare to the costs of the debt.

How is the FTC putting a timeframe on the class action suit when people that attended in previous years were made the same promises of job placement and other promises that were never fulfilled and caused upward of $80k in debt. I also became homeless with no job after obtaining a degree from them. My whole purpose of enrolling was based on the job aspect after obtaining a degree.

I went to University of Phoenix from 2009 - 2011, I was promised that i would find a job in the field I was studying with was information Technology with a minor in Web design and I have never given a job or offered any kind of training for a job. So I am working in a total different field with 29,000 in student loan debt.. I think it's unfair that the only years paid are from 2012 to 2020?

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 attended 2012 - 2016. I never got into the field of choice because of their deception. I want to know the same question you asked at the end of your post.

The FTC is sending payments to students who meet four criteria. Go to www.FTC.gov/UoP to see the four criteria and more information about the payments. 

Same thing here. That bachelors degree that cost me 80K has gotten my foot in a door but it sure hasn't panned out. To forgive that debt would be WONDERFUL!!!

Same here Alex, I too was promised so much I received a degree in Human Services and was going towards a masters but got out of that. After I graduated I was never able to get a job with that had to do with my degree plan, we students were always being called that we needed to take out more and more student loans. My school was half paid through the VA and half with student loans. I ended up with a job that pays only in the 30 thousands per year and have over 90 thousand in debt! I attended the UOP from 2004 to 2008 thinking I was doing the right thing by working and going to school there to help myself and my family after my husband passed away. Little did I know I was getting lied too and into so much debt and no job in there field I have a degree in. And I’m still trying to pay off all this debt, and to realize the campus I went to all shut down now! They lied and made false promises to a lot of people!

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.

Yes. I called the school and they said I do no qualify because I took out a federal loan. I'm gonna get my own lawyer and get my money back.

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.

Same here. A lot of employers - most all - didn't except UOP degrees.

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.

Same with me. My degree from the University of Phoenix is a joke. I was also told about their career services. They definitely sold me a story and I still don't have a job. I have a Bachelor's in Health Administration.

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.

I went to school from 2012 and graduated 2016, I paid a lot to the school of my own money and owe more than 60K, I am working the same job I did when I graduated. No help from the school, I am Hispanic and my daughter also went to the school and owed them money, she did not get a letter either.

FTC needs to oversee whether or not UoP follows through. I was told no one has been forgiven/reimbursed yet and that I didn’t qualify because I took an approved 6 week leave of absence one time. Are they just able to make up disqualifiers as they go?

I went to to UoP from 2001 to 2007. I had debt of 94k when I graduated. I was also promised help looking for a job I was promised I would find a job making at least 80k a year when I graduated. I was a single parent working full time and took on this too.... Now, 2020, I owe about 150k, and I was told my borrower defense was denied! Even though we may not have fit into this one little bubble of students that had issues, We absolutely were mislead in the same ways. We have all had potential employers laugh at us when we mention our school. Many of us have been told if we want to transfer to another school our credits would NOT be counted. I keep my degrees in the closet in a box, because that is how valuable they are. I have my years in IT that had nothing to with my degree, and everything to do with my aptitude. It is entirely unfair that one small cohort of UoP students have their debt removed while millions of us do not. I will never be able to buy a house and I know I am not the the only one.

I attended here in 2014-2015 and ended up dropping out but had a balance owed to the school. It was sent to collections which I ultimately ended up paying to have it removed from my credit. Will I be reimbursed for this? I haven’t heard anything from the school or anything else regarding this matter.

Do their degrees mean anything now?! I am a current student and an honor student at that and I would rather not continue to waist my time when I’m trying to provide a better future for my children.

So what of us that enrolled earlier with the same promises?

How do we apply for a refund I’ve moved since I attended university ofphoenix

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.

I attend 2008 graduated 2011 I was told under false pretense at that time as well because I’ve yet to have been employed with my degree from UOP companies looked at it as not credible. Now I’m stuck with loans I need help . Any recommendations for me,

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

My contact information is different than what the University of Phoenix has. How will they contact me?

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