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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.

939 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Jio
January 22, 2020
What about the students who have used their GI Bill benefits? is the money gonna be refunded to the VA?
Dbr31
January 23, 2020
When will people affected by this expect to get paid or word from the FTC if they will be reimbursed with the $50 million?
jcr
January 24, 2020
FTC should pay back students who had to takeout a student loan. Instead of them pocketing the millions of dollars left from the settlement.
FTC Staff
March 31, 2020

In reply to by jcr

As part of the $191 million settlement, the companies will return $50 million in cash to former students. The FTC will identify people who are eligible for a payment from the $50 million 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.

smp410
January 25, 2020
I attended the UoP back in 2012 for a software engineering degree. I was fed all kinds of job promises upon graduation. I took out federal student loan aid from sallie Mae (Navient). I am still making payments after withdrawing after only 2 years.I continue regretting my choice even today to attend this fraud school. I felt like the course material was not challenging. They force you to work in groups, one person does all the work and the other three geniuses get an A. What a waste of time and money. This settlement is terrible news for most of us who most likely borrowed from the government. Do Not Attend This School
Shannon
January 25, 2020
I was enrolled between 2015-2017. I racked up tons of loans with them and know I am part of the lawsuit yet have not received a letter or email from them. I had seen they had 15 days to do this. What should I do if they do not contact me?
tiredoflosing
January 26, 2020
They took my taxes when transferring to another college, I knew I was being ripped off, worst part is the next college is pulling the same crap, different details, when students speak up to saying they cannot continue these online colleges still put the billing well beyond the student acknowledges, and here I go still
jcrenander
January 27, 2020
I am one of many who went to University of Phoenix. I was an adjunct college instructor at the time, wanting to go full-time, but needing a masters degree to do so. I obtained a Master of Education in Language Arts Instruction which is what my advisor at Phoenix suggested, but that degree does not meet Higher Learning Commission standards to teach in any discipline so I had to GO BACK TO SCHOOL (not University of Phoenix) to get graduate credit in order to teach. I still owe more than $40,000 for a degree that turned out to be useless.
adcruz
January 27, 2020
I attended the University of Phoenix 2012-2014. I enrolled before October 2012 and took out federal student loans during my time there. I don't understand why this doesn't apply to other people who attended the school during that time since we still owe student loans. If I would've known about the false claims before 2014, I would've transfered out of that school earlier. It's sad that that many of us wasted our time, energy, and now owe a lot of money in student loans all because we believed in the university's claim. They took advantage of working people trying to better their lives in the hope of getting a good job with a good company.
U of Phoenix P…
January 28, 2020
I attended a UoP Bootcamp called RockIT. I saved all my money for one year and then took a leap-of-faith. I did not even get a customer support job and only 1 of 14 or so got a job and she had a degree in CS already. I have still yet to recover from that. I refused to pay but ended up settling my debt and it is still messing up my credit. One of the reasons that I could not get a VA home loan. Looking back there were so many things I was not told to get a clear view of the risks. I made an ill-informed decision and I am still paying for it.
Am I going to …
January 29, 2020
So when is the FTC going to advise those who are "eligible" to receive this money? From my understanding, UOP has already started their process. And while I understand those that used military benefits, what about the rest of us that are stuck in student loan debt because of this? The amount of weight that would be lifted from our shoulders would be huge! Especially since the government handed out ridiculously high interest rates that even paying well over double the monthly payment, only 10-15% of the payment goes to principal...
Adriana
January 29, 2020
I do not understand how the 141 million debt forgiveness works when UOP makes sure that the classes are paid in advance. When I went to UOP, I either had to pay cash, have a student loan, or personal loan to pay for my classes in advance. Therefore no debt was owed to the school. So the 141 million for debt forgiveness owed directly to the school. What debt? UOP gets their money in advance, or students can not attend classes. What about all of us that had to take student loans with false information. We still had to pay the money back?
FTC Staff
January 30, 2020

In reply to by Adriana

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 Complaint states that the University will ask credit reporting agencies to clear the debt from the peoples' credit reports. The University will automatically release any holds on their accounts caused by the outstanding balances, and will make their official transcripts available upon request.

Andre
January 31, 2020
I attended Univ of Phoenix during the timeframe specified. How long should I wait to receive the notification about the student loan? Secondly, one report said that the settlement only referred to students who owe the university directly, can you explain that part?
Tris
February 03, 2020
I was a student at University of Phoenix in 2014 when they promised me a good education and a well earned job. When I began it seemed like a good idea and when it ended I was 40 K in the hole which is now close to 50 K now in 2019. I had it helps to have my dream job working in criminal justice possibly in Microsoft or Internet security and instead here I am working a cashier because they claim that my degree Can't be used. I I hope things would've worked out but I guess I was mistaken. I should've done more research....
Trish
February 03, 2020
Why is it only for certain years? I went between 2001 to 2003 and was exposed to their deceptive practices, which was the reasons I chose to attend University of Phoenix.
Carole
February 03, 2020
I got my BA in Criminal Justice. Got good grades high GPA and cannot use my degree because it is worthless. Along with never being able to find work in the field and having a useless degree.
jessica
February 04, 2020
This is only for "former" students?
FTC Staff
March 31, 2020

In reply to by jessica

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 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.

Deanna Castillo
February 04, 2020
I attended University of Phoenix in 2010 and received my AA in Psychology. Had I known that my credits would not be transferable I would not have enrolled. I was told I would be assisted in job placement by the alumni support group. I continued to contact them and never received a response. I would like to know if still qualify for loan forgiveness through this claim.
FTC Staff
February 04, 2020

In reply to by Deanna Castillo

The settlement between the University of Phoenix and the FTC doesn't affect students' private loans or loans from the federal government. 

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.

Alumni and Sur…
February 04, 2020
I am a UoP alumni who enrolled in 2014 and graduated in 2019. I am now being told two of my classes weren’t covered by VA assistance and I now owe the university money. When I inquired about this settlement and whether or not I was eligible, I was told that I was not. How is this possible? I enrolled during the enrollment period indicated in this suit. Beyond the university, is there anyone else I should contact?
LouisianaGirl
February 05, 2020
How does one get I. On the settlement? I deserve to have my student loans forgiven.
phjohan
February 07, 2020
What if the loan payment is to Navient and graduated in 2009? Is there any help for graduates, who are stuck with the loan and companies are refusing to hire especially to graduates, who are over 40?
FTC Staff
February 07, 2020

In reply to by phjohan

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.

chloedukester
February 11, 2020
I am in debit with a job that pays less than my school loans from UOP. I have never ever had a job that paid according to what I was told and promised when getting my Bachelor's and no one has contacted me! I cannot find a job that pays well as now they want me to go back for my Master's! Please help me as I am told to make sure I am included but I have not received nothing zip. Concerned and not ok to forgive and erase some debit but not all.
afarron
February 09, 2020
I went to school during this time frame and I can't find a job .I have over 44,000 in school loans and I can't get a job with my degree anywhere. Why haven't I heard anything about this??
David31
February 11, 2020
When should people affected by the $50 million pay out expect to hear about getting paid?
FTC Staff
March 31, 2020

In reply to by David31

The FTC will send email updates about this settlement. You can sign up here to get the updates.

Jen
February 12, 2020
What will happen with the ones we use federal loan student to paid for the master degree and we are not getting anything from these settlement. I receive the letter back in December I call the University and they said that I still owe my student loans, which is not fair. I was part of the false advertising and I still have to paid the student loan.
Coco22
February 13, 2020
melinda I was there not only was I lied to the did not adhere to my disability to give special modifications until a year and a half after being there got put on academic probation when they never adhere to my disability paperwork. Never even said sorry.
Bryantshreeve
February 13, 2020
I attended UOP from June 2014-2016. Will I qualify for some of the settlement to help pay off my loans I used for attending UOP?
FTC Staff
March 31, 2020

In reply to by Bryantshreeve

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.

Vicsoria
February 13, 2020
I used used up most of all my va benefits on this school. Will I get any money back to attend a different school? I also, paid some out of pocket. Would those be taken into consideration if I enrolled during those years?
FTC Staff
March 31, 2020

In reply to by Vicsoria

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.

Anthony M.
February 14, 2020
I believe I’m one of these victims as well. First this college stopped me from being hired for jobs do to the class I had to attend one day a week. Also, before signing; I was told after graduating I would only have to pay $10k in student loans. I attended the college 2 years and now I owe over $30k. FOR 2 YEARS!!!! I stopped going because I had to work and now I’m being haggled by the university to pay this loan. I’m not giving them a cent for a degree I did not receive.
Keena
February 18, 2020
When will the FTC provide more updates?
Angie C.
February 18, 2020
I think this is unfair to those of us who were lied to also but attended the school during earlier dates. I went from 2007 - 2009 and heard the same promises and did not find a job in the field. How did we get left out of the lawsuit when we were affected just as much as the others?
eagrogg
April 13, 2020

In reply to by Angie C.

I asked the same thing. Why were other excluded? I was told it was a major University.
chavonco
February 20, 2020
I was completely deceived by the University of Phoenix. The counselors originally entered me into a Bachelor program then changed me to an Associate program in Psychology 72k later I ended with an Associates of Arts degree. No job or degree in the field I studied and debt over double the cost of a Master Degree in Psychology. My counselors changed frequently, the message changed but the deception and debt I am experiencing has stayed constant. If anyone reading this comment can provide me in the direction of Help...It will be much appreciated.
FTC Staff
February 21, 2020

In reply to by chavonco

If you have federal loans, you can look at information from the Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education. The have information about different repayment options at www.StudentLoans.gov.

David51
February 20, 2020
It has been 2 months since this article came out. Do you know when the ftc will update people on when they may receive money or expect to bE notified from the $50 million settlement
colochas29
February 25, 2020

In reply to by David51

I am also wondering when will the FTC start the process of getting notify who qualifies under the $50 million settlement. I sign to get email information but no updated information about the $50 million.
Ciao
February 21, 2020
I attended and graduated from the University of Phoenix 2009-2010. I was told at the time of registration I would be "getting paid to go to college" and after graduation, "placed in a career associated to my degree". Once I realized the money being sent to me was a "loan", I reached out to the school and was told, "just stay registered in one class and you will never have to pay the loan back". I re-enrolled. Once I did my own research and realized what I was doing to myself, I quit! I now owe nearly 40K for an Associate's degree in Criminal Justice that I have never and will never use. What about those affected prior to your given dates??
Chef with a Bill
February 27, 2020
Hello, I am curious as well to see if I am part of this lawsuit. I attend during the period spoken of, but it was for my bachelors, so is there anyway to get help for the associate program as well. I first started the program back in 2010-2011 with promises of better jobs, higher salary, and job placement. Only to find out years later that it means nothing. I am now certainly not using two degrees from them, and owe all this money in student loans. Does this lawsuit help people who have student loans? I would like anyones help at this point. I feel stuck, and scammed.
FTC Staff
February 27, 2020

In reply to by Chef with a Bill

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.

You could look at the US Department of Education information about repaying student loans at www.StudentLoans.gov. There is information about different ways of repaying, how to consolidate loans, lowering payments, loan forgiveness and other topics.

kimanimwang
February 27, 2020
I was a student from 2010 to 2016. Up until now am still working in the same place I was before despite having a Masters. It's not right to lie to people who are trying to build their future through education. Having come from a poor background I was very proud being the first person to have a Degree in my family. But now all I can boast about is a paper with nothing to be proud of. I wanted to set an example to my children too but right now there is nothing worth showing off. The only thing that I can say is that I have some knowledge that I didn't have before but my aim was not only knowledge but WORK. Unfortunately am still struggling especially to pay the Student loan which was over $100,000.
FTC Staff
March 31, 2020

In reply to by kimanimwang

The Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education has information for people who have federal student loans at www.StudentLoans.gov. There is information about different ways of repaying and how to consolidate loans.

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.

jen59
April 14, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

When is there going to be an update to who is getting a payment from the $50 million ?
German
February 25, 2020
I'm in the same boat this university,false promises of a better and brighter future. Lost nights at diffrent campus across Florida traveling and completing courses. Just a piece of paper and $75,000.00 on in necessary debts. Now they are telling me I dont qualify for this relief. This is still a complete scam any lawyers aouthere can help!