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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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Under the settlement unanimously approved by the FTC the University will pay $50 million in cash to the FTC and cancel $141 million in debts owed to the school by students who were harmed by the deceptive ads. The settlement requires UOP to pay $50 million to the Commission, which will be used for consumer redress.

I'm a little confused with the "owed directly to the school" part. Those who enrolled during that timeframe and paid using government loans will not have their debts forgiven?

I been attending from march 2012 up untill 2019 would I qualify?

I was enrolled initially from 2009, but I was in and out of matriculation between then and when I graduated. I was a student again from 2012 to 2014 when I finished and took out unsubsidized loans as a student with them. I assume I would NOT qualify for this, correct?

Why does this not include those who have student loans who were enrolled during that time frame?

I used federal student loans to pay for school during that time. Will I receive a refund or will the loan be paid off?

I did this university on-line. I was sent to a debt collection but because I became disabled my loans were forgiven. Not sure if I'm allowed anything because my credit is good again.

I went to UOP after getting out of the military in 2013 after seeing there ad, 100% disabled vet was still hoping to still work...used all of my GI Bill and still owe them. They have held my transcript from me all this time. Thank you FTC

What about students who were enrolled prior to Oct 1, 2012? Is the FTC going to address those concerns and complaints?

There were numerous complaints about deceptive practices from students prior to Oct. 2012. I was enrolled from 2007-2010 for an associate, then 2010 and graduate late July 2012 with a bachelor, and even then there promises made about being able to find a job after graduation, and mentoring would be available, but for a lot of students finding a job didn't happen--myself being one. Needless to say, it didn't help when campuses were being shut down left and right during this period, and that's not even the tip of the iceberg. I could go on to mention how an instructor posted my personal information to a class forum upon the completion of one of my final classes for my bachelor, which is a violation to say the least.

And as far as applying for Loan Forgiveness, unless you meet specific requirements, (ex. a teacher, do public service work, totally and permanently disabled) as according what's listed on the Student Aid website, the chances of getting any or all of your student loans forgiven are basically none.

The complaint stated that the university targeted military veterans. Most likely those veterans depleted their G.I. Bill on tuition at UOP. Why would they not be responsible for reimbursing veteran’s funds taken from their G.I. Bill?

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.

I went to University of Phoenix from 2007 to 2009 and got my associates degree in accounting. None of the accounting classes I took would transfer to a four year university and so I had to start again and as a result I ran out of financial aid. That was my first clue.. Also I was so embarrassed by my transcript.. my grades were mostly A and Bs but in the maze of numbers? or peeking under the hood? I had no idea that these classes were called these names because they did not qualify for accounting classes and it cost me 40000. I checked with Federal Student Loan services and I did not see the kind of fraudulent application to fill out. How do I get to be a part of this 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 send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

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

What if I used all my gi bill benefits during this time period

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.

What debt to the school? The debt is accurred through student loans, so the debt would be to student loan providers not to University of Phoenix. University of Phoenix received the payments. So the real question is will they be repaying loans and refunding fees for fromer students?

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

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.

Does this apply to students that enrolled in a new program such as a master's degree or graduate certification that had enrolled in a different program before October 2012 because they believed the school had business partners they did not? Or does this only apply to the very first day of enrollment with the school?

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. 

So, those that attended UoP on financial aid and student loans that were deceptive, how will those people be forgiven?

You can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about deceptive loans.

When I applied to UOP in May 2014 they had me apply for student loans which I qualified for. I attended for 5 years and accumulated $60,000+ in debt. The student loans paid UOP every class. Is the money I now owe the student loan company eligible to be paid by the settlement?

I refused to pay them for their shady advertisement and not keeping their word. Very misleading. But how do I know if my debt will be paid off? I attended in 2013.

I was contacted and signed up during those time frames and have taken out loans. I am not at the current address that I had while attending UOP. How will I or can I make sure that I am apart of this also if I never receive a letter?

What about those students that went prior to the settlement dates approved starting in 2012? I went during the years of 1994-1999, and similar practices happened during those periods. In fact, I'm still paying off on one more (1of4) loan. Am I able to submit for any types of refunds, or at the minimum, having my last loan forgiven?

GOOD QUESTION

People who went to the University of Phoenix outside the October 1, 2012 - December 31, 2016 timeframe aren't covered by this settlement. The Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education has information about student loans at www.StudentLoans.gov. It includes information about different ways of repaying, how to consolidate loans, and what to do if your loans have gone into default because you haven't paid.

So this does not apply to Federal loans? As in those who applied for Federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans to pay for UOP during this time? Or are those students included as well?

I wish this lawsuit would go back farther because when I got enrolled in 2005, I told the enrollment counselor that I wanted to go into nursing and the counselor said the program that I am going into would go towards the nursing program and a 3rd of the way through my associate's, I found out from my counselor that it disnt go towards the nursing program. So needless to say the enrollment counselor lied to me to get me into the program, I'm still mad about it to this day. I have completed 3 programs with them and have my masters in health administration which isnt what I wanted but decided to finish and I graduated with my masters in September of 2012 and I cant use my degree where I live because you have to have management experience in the work place to even get hired and I have none, and no actual training, so my student loans are in deferment because I cant afford to pay them and now I owe over $150,000. I would have never even started that stupid school if I would have known how it was going to turn out.

What does that mean owed to the school? Most people have federal financial aid. I was enrolled during the time and I remember those ads. Those ads are what made me want to go there. I don't owe money directly to the school though I owe it to Navient as I'm sure most people do. Do I get a refund too?

FTC, can you please provide additional context on "debt owed to the school"? If a student took out loans to attend, those loans technically paid the school and now the loan debt is owed to its servicer and/or the government. Does that mean that the majority of students who attended via student loan programs have no recourse or relief? Or is this a separate process with the servicer? The debt was only incurred due to attending so it seems like there should be relief for those students as well.

The debt owed directly to the school is money people owe directly to University by people who first enrolled between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016, that the University could collect or transfer to a collection agency. Read the Settlement Agreement for more information.

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.

Will this apply to MBA programs enrolled in online? I am currently repaying a loan through "My Fed Loans" however it was for a loan I applied for grad school in 2012 online to attend the University of Phoenix online courses.

Students who took classes online could be covered by the settlement between the FTC and University of Phoenix, but the settlement does not affect your 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 at the school between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

So do the people that took out Federal Student Loans to attend Univesity of Phoenix not get anything from this settlement? My husband attended from 2013-2016.

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.

When will University of Phoenix and the FTC will let students know they qualify for this settlement. I know we do not have to do anything but will like to know the process on when will students will get notify.

The University of Phoenix started notifying people around mid-December.

To get email updates from the FTC about this settlement, please sign up here.

So those who enrolled and took out student loans are excluded? If so why? They should be paying back the government and our loan balance should be reduced.

I enrolled in school August 2012 and started in September, until 2014. Will I qualify

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

The University will cancel the debts owed directly to the school by people who enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.  The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

What about us students who have no debt to the school but have outstanding federal loans and first enrolled during the time period?

So for the students that currently owe thousands of dollars to federal student loans, this settlement doesn’t apply?

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 attended the University of Phoenix back in 2012 - and did not take out any student loans (used private/home equity loans at the time). Am I eligible for a refund or partial refund of the money I paid to the school back then?

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 attended UOP, but did not graduate, does this still count for me?

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

The University will cancel the debts of students who owe fees or other charges directly to the school, for students who enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016. The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

They should have backed it to 2010.

Does this include federal student loans taken out to pay for tuition for UoP?

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