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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.

Don't use your…
December 10, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

How do we apply for a refund I’ve moved since I attended university ofphoenix
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

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.

anthoo
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

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,
Former student
February 02, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

My contact information is different than what the University of Phoenix has. How will they contact me?
FTC Staff
December 13, 2019

In reply to by Dondriz5239

University of Phoenix will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

RSHORT
February 09, 2020

In reply to by jc

Hello may you please help me with this process of finding out what and when I may be getting some information about this? Thank you so very much.
FTC Staff
February 11, 2020

In reply to by RSHORT

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.

Also, 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.

Jay
January 04, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

Most students have student loans through federal student loans or private loans and not owed directly to the school. which means most students will not get their refund. I was excited to hear the settlement until I read the fine print.
Madmom
April 30, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

My daughter was there in 2006. Was working on her BA when the school cancelled her classes. Now she has no degree, 60,000.00 in debt from UHEAA and FedLoan services that keeps compiling interest.
Rcr2019
December 18, 2019

In reply to by anthoo

Hi. I have a similar circumstance. Have you filed a formal complaint? I hope they do something about these additional years and degree programs.
NICMICHAR
December 13, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Does the affected reap benefits of the 50M as well as the debt cancellation? or is it either or?
joe
December 13, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

I just dont understand. This is all misleading. I went to school there between those times but since I do not owe the school directly I do not qualify. Most loans got through Sallie Mae or the Dept of revenue. Who can I contact on this?
Pokey
December 10, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Yay, FTC! These people should go to JAIL! Predators, all them! Advertising on tv/radio/internet is CONSTANT regarding "on line" Universities to make your "dream" come true...They prey on desperate people trying to make a postitve change in their lives. Its DISPICABLE, GrEEDY, and OUTRAGEOUS! Im glad you are doing something about this. THANK YOU FTC Job well done.
michael
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Do you know if this refund applies to students who paid cash upfront for classes between the affected date?
FTC Staff
December 13, 2019

In reply to by michael

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.

Rea
December 18, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

I am eligible for the time frame. What if I was paying the amount to them. Do I receive my funds back? Thanks
ashley
December 31, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Hi, I’m a graduated student with two degrees within those years. Nowhere near a job in my field. However, I have students loans in which the UoP supplied the lender to me. Will I be a student who is offered these funds or cancelled debt? It’s the wording of “owing the school directly” that throws me off.
FTC Staff
December 31, 2019

In reply to by ashley

The settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix does not affect loans that students have with the federal government or private lenders. To find out who your lender is, look at your account online, or look at the paperwork you signed when you took out the loan.

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.

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.

Where is the money?
March 11, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

My husband is a disabled veteran that attended Phoenix University between 2012 and 2016 and we have not heard anything from the FTC. Will he be recieving a refund for all those courses? Is there someone we can contact?
FTC Staff
March 12, 2020

In reply to by Where is the money?

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.

J. Grider
December 28, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

I was a student at UOP from 2012 to 2014, I obtained government loans to cover my tuition, I believe I am covered under the 50 million portion of the settlement. How do i find out if the FTC has my info and is processing a claim for me.
Ccusick
February 18, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

I went to school here from 2004-2008, both bachelors and Masters programs with Subsidized and unsubsidized student loan’s that have been consolidated by the government. The school tricked me into believing that my interest rate was going to be one thing for the entirety of my schooling and then when I completed my degrees I found out that the interest rates were different for each loan that they took out. In my last year at the school I had a position with a company who reimbursed for tuition. In my last three classes the school refused to let me continue until I filled out a FASFA. I explain to them that I wanted to be cash for the remainder of school because my company was paying for my tuition. Against my wishes they applied for a full years worth of loans increasing my tuition bill by another $15,000. They are crooks, I should be able to get some restitution.
wm
December 30, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

I took the online classes and curious to when will people be notified of the refund and how that determination is made. I think the school is a rip off and I have not had any luck finding a job in my field. And the cost to attend is extremely high. I have paid back a lot of money and still don't see any progress being made of getting close to paying it off.
Tjohnson1228
February 01, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

My student loans were wiped out but there still taking my tax returns for the student loans how can I get it back figure out why they took it last then sent it back almost yr later and now yesterday took this year's tax return when they weren't susoose to
Teneshia
March 17, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

I don’t believe that 2012 is when the deception by advisors began. I got out of the army in 2004 and can i get you started today with them. I didn’t graduate until 2011 because of a break but the prices were ridiculous. Being fresh out of the army they assured me that I’d be ready to enter the civilian sector. Come to find out I needed a certification to which I wasn’t prepared for because my degree was in science, which I constantly argued and was told that I’m on the right course by the counselors and advisors. So in my opinion they’ve been deceiving people!
Lyte
December 10, 2019

In reply to by nmccoy

I went to the University of Phoenix $300.. And I w And I went to Apollo School of Phoenix And I paid them $8,000 cash. Well I'll be getting a refund from both schools
Ray
December 12, 2019

In reply to by nmccoy

I was denied by UOP because I took out a student loan to pay them so I don't owe them directly. This is BS - who still owes them on the books from 20212 - 2016?
HaM
December 10, 2019
I was also someone who went to UOP and understood that I would have a job as well. i was told by an advisor that any money borrowed would not have to be paid back. I enrolled. I was almost finished with my program, when I was told that I had to complete yet another degree and that the program I was offered and almost finished with was no longer available to me. I had to drop out. I soon learned from thr Advisor who enrolled me into the school to start with was earning monies for enrolling students, and now I also learned that I did indeed have to pay all funds back. I had no problem with this, due to the fact that I would earn an AA degree. But, when I was suddenly pushed into another program that I did not sign up for.... that is when I learned that there was something very wrong. I had no chioce but to drop out. Now, I am stuck with a huge bill accruing interest evry month for something I was forced out of. i never got to complete the program I signed up for. Yet, I owe over 18,000.00.
Dough
December 10, 2019
Good job FTC! Good job getting these student’s debts forgiven!
Koppsmb1
December 15, 2019

In reply to by Dough

They are not including students who took out federal loans. I have no idea how students owe the university of phoenix. They have to pay as they go or the university will not let them continue. So what the heck???
R. Crawford
December 10, 2019
How will students know if their loans are fore given or refund etc? I also need my transcripts.
FTC Staff
December 10, 2019

In reply to by R. Crawford

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. The settlement doesn't affect students' private loans or federal government loans.

University of Phoenix will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled. The notice will come by email or paper mail. The notice will have information about getting transcripts.

FTC Staff
December 10, 2019

In reply to by Jhenry

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.

rlafitte48
December 10, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

what happens to enrollments prior to 2012? Is there any relief?
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by rlafitte48

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

That's the time period when people were probably exposed to the University's deceptive advertising. The FTC says the University falsely claimed it had relationships and job opportunities with companies like AT&T, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Twitter, and The American Red Cross.

kemp
January 23, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

I was enrolled during that time, were I finished in Dec 2012. Would I qualify?
Kathleen
August 19, 2020

In reply to by kemp

I also would like to know some information on this I went to school from 2013 to 2017 as well.Summer saying I don’t have to do anything. And the school will notify me if I qualify is this true
MzShiella
January 29, 2020

In reply to by rlafitte48

I paid a lot of fees to the school separately that were not part of financial aid
jj
January 22, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

what about people that use they GI benefits from the VA to pay for the school and now the don't have anything left to pursue another degree, is that money being refunded to the VA??
brandiawilliams
December 10, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

This is a ridiculous settlement. Hardly anyone owes money directly to the school. I hope that starts coming out. This is a facade to make it look like something was done.
FTC Staff
December 11, 2019

In reply to by brandiawilliams

Under the settlement, the University will cancel $141 million in debts owed to the school by students who were harmed by deceptive ads and ask credit reporting agencies to delete the debt from students' credit reporting files.

Ap6
March 28, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

I attended University from 2011 to 2014. I have not heard anything from them. How can I find out if I am owed a refund?