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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.

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Jobs & Making Money

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The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million University of Phoenix settlement with the FTC. That could include people who used military benefits. 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.

Definitely looking into this. I just paid a balance off less than 2 months ago and owe a good bit in student loans for the empty promises.

What is the time frame of being debt free from University of Phoenix? So how long will take to get that letter?

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.

What does it mean owe directly to the school? If I got a Federal student loan to attend is that part of this settlement?

No, the settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix does not affect students' private loans or federal government loans.

The University 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. If you would like to get email updates about this settlement, please sign up here.

How about people that was deceived before 2012, I started in 2011 and owe a lot of money right now with no degree to show for it. The same with my wife, my wife only had 1 class to get her degree and they told her that she has to enrolled in more program to finish that.

If I graduated from there in 2013 and then enrolled for my BA in 2014, does that mean my BA would qualify? Also, is this for student loans that I owe to the government?

I attended Devry University. Is this school part of the University of Phoenix?

I was told I would receive a Human Resources Management degree. I asked repeatedly and was told several times that is what it would state on my degree. At graduation I received a Business Administration degree with no mention of the four years of study in and towards an HR Mgt. degree. I’ve attempted to discuss this with representatives from the University on various occasions to no avail. Is this not also a fraudulent activity?

You can report a problem you have with a business to the FTC at www.FTC.gov/Complaint.

I just graduated from the University of Phoenix in April of this year. I started in April 2014, and was infact attracted by online ads. I put in five years straight of overachievement, no sleep, working as hard as I possibly could, and being overly committed. In addition, I had to work full time and complete an extensive betterment program at the same time. It was equivalent of a part time job, my fourth year I worked two jobs, and my fifth year I was pregnant with severe complications and we almost didn't make it. The ads and the counselors stated I would increase my opportunities, salary range, and the PhoenixConnect Alumni portal would allow recruitment opportunities. Neither has been the case and I am still unemployed after applying to a million jobs, speaking to a career counselor and doing everything suggested, joining the alumni portal, and connecting my LinkedIn account. I currently owe about $67,000 in student loan debt to the government. I don't understand how this settlement would not apply to me. I applied at the time the deception occurred, I had the exact same experience, I have been effected by it greatly, and I can prove all of the above. So what exactly am I supposed to do? Suffer for 20 years and have to pay it anyway, even after they were just ordered to cancel the debt to anyone who was deceived during that time? My car was repossessed, I lost literally everything, and I still don't have a job. I can confidently say that I have probably applied to more jobs than anyone. I am past the thousands in an eight month period. I also had a baby four months before graduation, which has made things even more dire. I am so distraught to get this news after everything I did for five years, I kept wondering why I haven't found anything yet. I have put in the continual daily effort to get hired and I even graduated with a 3.7 GPA and member of two honor societies. Someone please help me figure out what the next course of action is to appeal my lack of inclusion in this matter.
Just because I owe the government I am still held accountable? Then why doesn't the school pay the government for me? I could just have a complete and total melt down right now after all of my suffering, persistence, neglect of my own health, over commitment, and five years of torture and lack of sleep. All for what, to be worse off then I was before? To have a degree from a University who's reputation has been shattered, and can't uphold their assurances and proclamations of this so called better life with a real career? I earned my degree, no one is going to take that away from me. Certainly not, while I must continue to pay it off for the rest of my life. This is absurd, I have every right to be included in this settlement. If you knew what I went through to earn it and the sacrifices I made then you would most definitely understand. I want a career and my debt paid off, because everything is relative not one way across the board. If anyone deserves this, it is I. I am not discounting or degrading anyone elses efforts, sacrifices, and so forth. Only stating my own.

Me too! I was advised I would have a degree in Human Service Management and I ended up with a degree in arts.

I went to University of Phoenix from 2009-2012 had one class left to graduate with a bachelor’s in Psychology and was notified they were not accredited by the BCBA in psychology. Will I be eligible to remove the $50000 I have?

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.  The University will cancel debts that people owe directly to the school. This settlement will not affect your federal or private loan debts.  If you think you have been defrauded or deceived in connection with a federal student loan, you can apply for loan forgiveness through the Borrower Defense to Repayment procedures.

So this only applies to funds owed directly to the school and NOT to students who still owe federal loans used to pay for their education during the same time frame? Why? Can’t the argument be made that those students were just as affected?

I have the same question. I'm not understanding if only those who paid directly to the school will benefit from this settlement. Those who owe federal loans are in the same predicament because at the end, they're paying the same school. The reason for applying for those loans was to pay the university.

I don;t have experience on this site, but can we all open up a separate complaint with the FTC on the fact that this settlement isn't "settling" anything at all. We were all forced to pay for classes or come up with a lot of money (hello, student loans!) or else we couldn't start classes. I most certainly was not told I could have a direct loan with the school. I don't get it....wish someone else here could explain better why those with student loans aren't just as affected as anyone else.

Under the settlement, the University of Phoenix will cancel $141 million in debts certain former students owe directly to the school. The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

The University will also make a $50 million cash payment to the FTC. The FTC will use the money to make payments to students who were harmed by the advertising. We will publish more information about the FTC payments on www.consumer.ftc.gov when it's available.

Do these debts include refunds to amounts paid to the school during that time window such as tuition

Do you owe money directly to the University for fees or some other kind of charge?

Under the settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix, the University will cancel $141 million in debt that people who first enrolled between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 owe directly to the school. Cancelling a debt is different from getting a refund.

I was wondering the same thing. I attended UOP between 2013 and 2016. I owe federal loans because of UOP. I want to make sure that I am apart of it. I was affected by those advertisements and I was told directly by a recruiter that I would be able to get a job right out of school. I want the FTC to elaborate on the "DIRECTLY OWED TO THE SCHOOL" comment.

So I have student loans from December 2015 through December 2016, I am eligible for this correct? In order to proceed the program you couldn’t be negative in your account. So how does this not affect loan debts which we paid to the school at an unfair rate.

I was a former student, and I always questioned why they could never help with a job connection, for me! I am glad they came to this resolution of course.

From what time period will this lawsuit apply too?

What time period, was this in? I went there 2009 until 2013. And then 2015 to 2017 for my MBA and i have 5 classes left.

It would be really helpful to know the time period that is in question. I attended and graduated from UofPHX and was promised a nearly direct career path in management. Here I am years later, 40K in student loan debt and no career.

I have been attending the University for over a year, does this settlement include current students?

What if they didst let me start classes in 2016 and had me wait until 2017 in Feb? I had applied and was accepted sometime in November/December. would i still qualify for this or no?

I am not sure if i Qualify for this. I believe I was considered enrolled in 2016 by December/November, but they said I had to wait to start classes in Feb. of 2017. Do I technically qualify for this?

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.

Why is it not before? I was there from 2006-2008.

Great Question and I would like to know too! I had attended UOP from 2007 -2011. I also had to pay few courses out of pocket because they only loaned me so much. I was struggling to make those payments to stay in school. UOP was lying back then too about how they are able to help with job placement after graduation.

I took out Federal loans, why am I exempt from debt being cancelled just because I didn’t owe Phoenix directly?

Very good question. The loans were taken to pay Phoenix for services they didn’t or were unable to deliver.

What time period? I went into 2010.

I got my Bachelors Degree from UOP in 2010 attended for four years still don’t have the career in Accounting I was seeking how many years are they going back

Same here, and they promised help for me as well, in finding a job, which they did NOT do...but unfortunately I went before 2012, so my $30k loan, will be paid over 400%

I went in 2009 or 2010 and I just took only 9 hrs. So, that means my loan will be forgiven?

What happens if I paid off my debt fully. Do I get that money back?

I am a victim of UoP and have experienced the same things of students in that time period listed. I have a bachelors from them that is worthless and I’m 60k in debt and never obtained gainful employment that was eluded to for attending. My time period though is not within the dates. I graduated in 2008. On top of false promises, I believe that they padded their numbers for what was needed for actual school costs as often I had leftover checks sent to me and was completely uneducated in receipt of “extra” funds. Attending this school has totally ruined my financial life and provided absolutely no advancement for the hard work and debt price tag I carry around.

This mess was happening prior to 2012! I entered in 2009-2011 and have over $100,000 of student loan debt because of University of Phoenix. What happens to the loans prior to 2012?

Who owes the school directly , their business is eating up federal student loan money.They seem to be getting a pass here.

Great job FTC! You guys work hard for the people. You got our back and hopefully everyone has yours, because we know this kind of thing makes the corporate scammers very unhappy. Kudos!!

I graduated from university of phoenix in 2017 I enrolled in 2007. Will my loans be forgiven? I am currently paying back.

I went from 2013 - 2016 and earned my Bachelor's. But I paid all $40K off, does that mean DoE/Sally Mae will send me a refund?

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

Under the settlement, the University will cancel $141 million in debts that are owed directly to the school by people who first enrolled 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.

It says it will cancel debts directly owed to the school. Like most of us, you all probably owe money to some outside company that bought your loan since you are no longer a student there. I bet thats the loophole that will get us all :(

I first enrolled in an Associate's program in 2012, prior to October. However, I did enroll for the Bachelor's in 2014 and later for the master's in 2015 or 2016.

Where do I check to see if I am eligible to participate in this settlement?

so basically no one is getting their loans paid off because they make you get federal loans when you start, there was never an option to pay the school back. So will UOP actually have to pay back 191m? I doubt it.

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