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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

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I attended UOP y2011 Graduated y2015 MAET. My degree is NOT worth the $1 paper its printed on - at least that's basically how my current employer viewed it. My opinion is this - We were all duped and for profit institutions are a joke! Regardless of when you attended - the settlement should be for ALL who attended. It's the name - that has a BLACK MARK and why employers 'laugh' when they see University of Phoenix on a resume.

I went to University of Phoenix. I attended 2004 - 2006 and I still owe over $20,000 and I was not notified of this settlement. How can I be apart of this settlement?

This settlement applies to people who attended the University between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016. If you attended outside those dates, the settlement does not apply to you.

Does this include those who enrolled during the time frame and used federal student loan? If not, then this doesn’t help those who were convinced of the job outlook, after completion.

FTC: Since several people are inquiring about the attendance dates to which this settlement pertains, it would be helpful to add that information to the press release.

I enrolled in June 2012 and graduated in 2014 would any of that time be considered for part of the settlement.

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

I was attending online classes from 2004-2005 and now owe around 15000. Am I eligible for this. I took business management classes and as everyone else got me no-where. There add were definitely false advertising.

No, you would not be eligible to have any debt you owe directly to the University cancelled under this settlement. The dates you atended are not within the  time period October 1, 2012 - December 31, 2016.

Do we only get refunded if we borrowed money from the school or does it count if we have a government loan?

Is it debt that is owed directly to the school? Or is it studen loan debs owed to the department of education as well?

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.

I’m a little confused. I have federal loans, but that was the only option the University financial office gave me other than paying out of pocket each semester. Who is actually getting debt canceled?

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.

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

I attended University of Phoenix and graduated in 2013. I didnt enroll during 2012-2016 but I was attending. Will I be eligible to receive some sort loan forgiveness?

I just paid off my loan. Will I still get a refund? And how, since the loan no longer exists.

The University is not giving refunds.

Under this settlement with the FTC, it is cancelling debts that people owe directly to the University, if the people enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

Hello to the FTC Staff commenting. Will there likely be a second round of checks coming around after the first ones?

This settlement is not about DeVry.

I started UOP in Feb 2012 for my Bachelor's degree and finished in 2013. Would I be able to be included in the settlement?

Did you enroll for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016? If you did not, you are not eligible to have any debt you owe directly to the University cancelled under this settlement.

Hello,

I went in 2013-2014. My tuition was about $7400 I have no balance, paid my student loans and graduated. Do I qualify for any refund or is it only students who owe? Thanks,

I enrolled at UOP between 2013 and 2017. I would like you know what the phrase "directly to the school" means? That is very confusing and I was affected by this advertisement. I have loans through Navient.

Hi FTC,

First I want to thank you for all your hard work and taking time to respond to our questions.

I have a couple of questions.
1. If i was enrolled in 2015 and graduated 2018, am I only prorated for 1 year through the settlement date of 2016? Or is my whole entire debt cleared?

2. When can we expect the settlement to notify creditors and have it cleared?

Thank you,

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.

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

So will those who paid off they loans get a refund because there was an offset of over 3000$ taken last year for loans owed back in 2014

The University is not giving refunds. Under this settlement with the FTC, it is cancelling debts that people owe directly to the University, if the people enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

What about individuals who took out student loans and now have a useless degree for this institution

What is the reasoning behind the exclusion of federal loans?

I also attended UoP online. Never once was there a mention of me owing to the school because they applied for me to get Grant's and loans putting me in debt to the tune of $60,000. Why isnt the FTC forcing the UOP to pay back ALL loans including any to Sally Mae, Dept of Ed, etc...Those of us who attended during this time were hoodwinked too. I cant afford to pay back the loans that UOP forced me to take out. My student loan holders are on the verge of taking me to court. Please help us too FTC!!!

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

There's information about different ways of repaying, how to consolidate loans, what to do if your loans have gone into default because you haven't paid.

What about all we put in using pell grants and financial aid

what if you took out a federal loan? is that forgiven as well?

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

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

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.

I'm all for this! But what I would like to know is what is going to happen to the students who were signed up to this school under false pretenses? Meaning lying to people who don't have a high school diploma and telling them it's fine you can still get financial aid even without a diploma. Which I have told the Department of Education and nothing has happened. Absolutely nothing! I was enrolled the end of 2011. I need help with this matter! The school scams people and lies!

I am jobless still. What’s the criteria for the cash refund out of the 50 million?

The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million the University paid to the FTC as part of the settlement. 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.

This will really help all of us that have degrees from this institution to further our careers and fyi this was going on before 2012 in the N Cal area

I was notified by UOP today that the money I owe them will be forgiven. Does this mean I will get a cash settlement from the FTC also? What exactly are the cash settlements you will be paying out for?

I enrolled and started at the university in 2015 after I saw a commercial. I've paid for schooling both directly with cash and through student loans. Will I qualify? As far as I know they wouldn't let me continue classes unless I paid. I graduated in June and still have not found a job despite their promises of great hiring rates. For my fed loans would I have to file a borrower defense?

I enrolled at the uop in march of 2015. In 2017 they told me that my program may not be accredited/paid for. They told me that I had to pay for the program out of pocket. Therefore, I withdrew from the uop in August 2017. Ended up going back in February 2018 and had to switch majors to something I really didn't want to do. I was told I could be a psychologist in 2015 then was discouraged in 2017. Now i am unhappily studying business and accounting and I am still enrolled there for some odd reason. I'm upset about going in debt for a degree i do not want to pursue. Will my debts be forgiven?

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

I attended UOP 2008 and graduated October 31, 2012. Do I qualify as part of the settlement?

If I read this correctly, if I first enrolled in January 2011 and earned my degree in June 2013 I'm not eligible because I wasn't FIRST enrolled in October 2012. This should be for anyone that was enrolled during this time frame. The school claims a high job placement after graduation but they never even helped me after I was done with them.

I totally agree. I went to school.there and graduated 2013. This should all be included in this time frame! Total bs they didnt help get me get a job. Not even close. Lies

I enrolled in April 2012 under the same impression as everyone else. How will I know if I qualify for the refund and debt owed?

I am seeing that under the stipulations of the settlement the Federal Trade Commission are only mandating University of Phoenix to pay back loans directly associated with the University and not Navient or FAFSA loans. Many of us who applied and attended the college took out private loans because of the same pretense and now to find out this settlement does not cover us.... isn't this judgment and agreement bias?
If University of Phoenix is only "forgiving" loans that students took directly from the institution, they are not really settling a $191 million dollar debt they are stating that they will not hold students to the loan to the institution. Which in fact means they are not paying anything.
What about us who took out Navient and FAFSA loans?

Under the settlement unanimously approved by the Commission, UOP will pay $50 million in cash as well as cancel $141 million in debts owed to the school by students who were harmed by the deceptive ads.

The FTC will use $50 million for payments to students. When we have information about how the FTC will manage the payments we'll publish it on www.consumer.ftc.gov. 

I have been seeing ads about this and on one it said to call if you had not yet received a letter. It's called [Business name removed] Everything sounded good till they said I would have to make payments for all the processing that will be done on my behalf. To be exact they are saying, $900.00 broken up into 5 monthly payments. I have been googling like crazy trying to determine if I qualify and who to speak with.
Based on what I have read here, it seems like we will be contacted. So why is this company promising this and even involved, and is this even legitimate considering. But someone else asked a question that was not answered, if you attended and have since moved as well as changed contact information how will the department of education ensure that these students will be reached?

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