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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

DPinckney
December 12, 2019

In reply to by brandiawilliams

I agree. I'm sure everyone took out a federal loan. I did. Why is this not included. How do you apply for a fed loan forgiveness?
C. Maiden
December 12, 2019

In reply to by DPinckney

I agree I attended late 2010 to 2015 and was told and showed how to apply for federal loan's. And when I didn't pay they wouldn't allow me to attend the next course. So either no one owes a large amount or they prayed on loans. I owe 67 grand in loans and UOP made sure they got theirs first.
orumg1607
December 13, 2019

In reply to by DPinckney

I agree! I have have major loans!! How di we get help with the loans we took out that were paid to UoP?
MzShiella
January 29, 2020

In reply to by DPinckney

Agreed! I am so broke with a degree class of 2016 and a loan payment sky high and no relief!
Cheryl
December 11, 2019

In reply to by brandiawilliams

Agreed! I would think the people that were affected but had to get a loan to pay for school should be given the same treatment. :(
Screwed hard w…
December 16, 2019

In reply to by Cheryl

No fair treatment.. only looks to be. Money ... No Money
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by Cheryl

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.

colochas29
December 12, 2019

In reply to by brandiawilliams

It not fair that only the students that are going to benefit are the one that owe s money directly to the University, they will not allowed to start the semester if they did not got paid. I do not think is fair this settlement for students who have Federal Student Debt and are not cover under this settlement. I am a single mom that have a debt of $54,000 and can't find a good job that can help me to pay for my bills.
Screwed hard w…
December 14, 2019

In reply to by colochas29

That's what I was thinking . If I sudnt have student loan.. set in place and good to go . There was no starting the class. So how the hell .. people OWE the school money. That's every college I have come across.. PAY NOW OR NO CLASS.
Koppsmb1
December 15, 2019

In reply to by colochas29

I agree that we who paid with student loans should be in on this settlement. I was told that getting your associates degree is like getting you highschool diploma. I was like really! I did not pay over 30k for my highschool diploma... They promise you the world and I am in debt with just dollars about minimum wage. Can't pay aloan on that.
Sandra
December 12, 2019

In reply to by brandiawilliams

I completely agree. Also I graduated in 2011. I have a student loan dept that ballooned from 35 or 40,000 to 60000. I am crippled. I couldn't get a decent job for many years while interest went up. I have stopped using their name on my resume. I was asked by an employer once why I chose such a bad school for a masters after I had been to a good school. The advertising was deceptive I thought I could find work while doing the program. Once in they threatened you from leaving saying you would be liable for the rest of the fees. Meaning I was stuck to complete or loose money and transferring after you were in was a pain. I am in pain having to pay all that debt. All that time lost and money. How come the year 2012 is mentioned only. How about those in 2011 who were clueless and got sucked into their fake advertising and lies. When you called the office w concerns only lies came out of their mouths . You know felt something was wrong but they lied and lied and lied. Ruining people's lives. I need help too.
UnfinishedMBA
December 12, 2019

In reply to by brandiawilliams

Exactly!! I agree as well! Mostly everyone took out a federal loan! Very deceiving
joe
December 13, 2019

In reply to by brandiawilliams

Agreed Brandia Im in the same boat
Shar
December 15, 2019

In reply to by brandiawilliams

That’s exactly what it is. UOPX knows they won’t have to pay back hardly anything because they won’t let you start a class without paying every penny due on your account even though they legally weren’t allowed to collect those funds. So basically, the settlement is a joke. They will be paying back hardly anything and us students sucked in will owe the Dept of Ed even after retirement since the degree essentially is worthless. More needs to be done to hold them accountable for their actions. They sent me an email about this settlement saying they did nothing wrong and should continue an education with them. They absolutely are wrong. I was roped in by being told they personally work with the Board of Education in my state and getting a teaching degree through them would mean they could get me employment in my home state. Well, wrong, my home state wants nothing to do with this university. I have chalked it up to a 69,000 dollar lesson on life. In order to even get use of that degree, I will have to incur more debt and get a masters in education at a local institution. For students who were directly lied to like this, and I know there are a thousand more for every word I type here, the University should have to pay back their loans as well. This lawsuit won’t touch the pockets of the CEO and higher ups, so what lesson with they learn? Lie to them through phones calls ( I was subjected to calls and campaign ads) if they just continue it by phone, there’s no way to prove it. This is an epic fail.. this is not a beneficial class action lawsuit.. it will help none of the victims.
Cnomore
December 21, 2019

In reply to by brandiawilliams

Exactly! BS! I owe a kit of money to UOP and it’s financial aid! That’s not ok!
Christine Ferr…
January 10, 2020

In reply to by brandiawilliams

I like Brandi Williams am suspect about the settlement, why weren't federal loans taken out during the University's deceptive conduct not included?
ncin024
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Am I understanding this correctly? If we attended University of Phoenix during the time period in question and received federal student loans, we are NOT eligible for loan forgiveness?
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by ncin024

The settlement between the University of Phoenix and the FTC doesn't affect your private loans or federal student loans. This settlement doesn't affect whether you are or are not eligible for loan forgiveness from your lender.

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

Jcr
January 06, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

This is unfair. I am trying to make sense of why federal student loans will not be forgiven but I can't.
Jamie W.
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

So they guided me thru to get federal loans and I am in the same job all these years later. I owe those still? Does not seem fair that many of us that got conned into doing that will get zero back. I owe a lot of money in loans that are serviced by Great Lakes. Wow and I went there from 2012 to 2016.
M. Carter
December 12, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

I attended UOPX during the time period outlined. In article it states that "certain former students"... What stipulates which students will be eligible?
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by M. Carter

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.

Tammy A Walsh
December 13, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

But here is the issue with that answer, I did some research on this and it clearly states that UOP does not hold any loans for student debt they also do not favor one loan source over another. So this entire statement seems as though it is a smokescreen for UOP and those who helped initiate the suit. I too was in this time frame I was forced to take out loans with fed gov in order to go to UOP. So if what your statement says on this about "owing to the school" no one will get anything back. YOU never owe the school you owe the loans that paid the school for books, tuition, and fees. That being said this makes zero sense to anyone trying to figure this out. I am 70-k in debt being misled on classes I should have taken to take the career path I wanted to take, now I am still in the same job I was in 12 years ago and my 2 degrees are basically toilet paper after this sham. I will be 60 this April now I have a ton of debt and absolutely no way to take care of it. With two degrees that did not further my career and no have actually hindered it.
Sroby2133
December 12, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

What if you received federal student aid, specifically the Grad Plus Loan and Unsubsidized Stafford loans to pay tuition to UoPX in that time frame? Will those be removed from my Nelnet account, along with interest accrued?
FTC Staff
December 13, 2019

In reply to by Sroby2133

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

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.

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.

jen1959
December 28, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

What about our grant money they ended up using ????
a1mintz
December 13, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Is it possible that original debts were owed to the school and then transferred when student loan laws changed? If so how can I determine if my loans were originally with the school?
Eve
December 26, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

UoP only accepted cash or direct loan payment to the school to attend classes. You have to pay to attend and pay to get online books, no paper back option. You literally couldn't attend school or graduate without it paid upfront thru loan.
jenniferk28
December 10, 2019
I went to university of Phoenix for 4 years and have not found a job yet. I have at least 60,000 in student loans. I got my associates and bachelors an still cannot find a job.
TM
December 10, 2019

In reply to by jenniferk28

Same here got a masters and it isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on!
LQL
December 10, 2019

In reply to by TM

Unfortunately these practices were happening prior to 2012. I attended The University of Phoenix 2009-2011 with those same promises! Graduated with over $95,000 in student loan debt and could not find a decent paying job to payback the loans! What about those of us who were affected prior to 2012 with the same promises and practices!
Senior Citizen
December 11, 2019

In reply to by LQL

I graduated in May 2012, single parent in my 50's. I always believed UOP was keeping a large part of my financial aid payments. I also was made to believe once I graduated I would secure a well paying job. Here I am at 58 earning $16 an hour as an office employee. A job I would have been able to secure without a BS that has costed me $55,000. I believe this settlement should include students that were enrolled prior to October 2012. I know many students who graduated that are not working or earning very little. Loans should be forgiven for all low-wage earners, senior citizens, disabled individuals, unemployed or single parents who graduated from any college or university.
angy3
December 12, 2019

In reply to by LQL

I agree I attended before 2012 ended with 30k in loans didn’t even finish because they capped me with federal loans, pull grants, and they slammed me with another direct loan. I couldn’t keep up with it any longer and quit. Too much money, if I knew then what I know now!!!
useless MBA 20…
December 12, 2019

In reply to by LQL

I agree those same practices were happening much earlier than 2012. the same was happening in 2005-2008.
Solonzo
December 15, 2019

In reply to by LQL

We were most likely in the same class! This is a ridiculous settlement as most of us had to get private/government loans. This settlement doesn't sit well with me. No. No. No!
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by Solonzo

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.

Mislashess
December 11, 2019

In reply to by TM

Same here! I was finally lucky enough to find a job, but UOP is a laughable degree and yet I owe over 50K
Myrtle19
December 10, 2019

In reply to by jenniferk28

I’m in your shoes also I have 50k in debt and no job for what I went to school for. Now I am working 75 to 85 hrs a week to get by. People talk down to me and I’m tired of it.
Stephanie
December 11, 2019

In reply to by jenniferk28

I know the feeling pretty sad right
Maria Zambrana
December 11, 2019

In reply to by jenniferk28

I'm in the same situation. Over $60,000 in student loan debt for a worthless bachelor's from University of Phoenix. The debt should be cancelled for all that attended regardless of the time period, UoP is a fraud.
Nattie
December 11, 2019

In reply to by jenniferk28

Same here. Completed two degrees and failed to find a job related to my degree. I also went from owing about $50-60k for the entire duration there to nearly $80k with no explanation as to how or why so much.
shawna R
December 11, 2019

In reply to by jenniferk28

Most of us will not get a refund, as we took out student loans and didn't pay out of pocket. From what I understand from reading only those that paid out of pocket will be refunded... Meanwhile those of us that rely on loan and are now in huge debt will continue to remain in debt and still unable to pay anywhere near what they think we should be making. 61,000 here and still climbing, Bachelors in Information Technology Software engineering and no place will hire me without a minumum 3-5 year experience in coding and development. a 3-6 month course doesnt cover that much experience.
Dm
December 10, 2019
How will we know if we are on the refund list.
Raquel P.
December 10, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

We were all told we would be guaranteed a 6-figure salary by every instructor with any one of these great companies in Silicon Valley. I never landed any secure job as promised and still owe to UOP.
Pbasham32
December 12, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

So because I used government loans I’m not eligible? I was still exposed to the practices
MzShiella
January 29, 2020

In reply to by Pbasham32

This makes me so angry, it's so unfair that those of us that owe more than 60K or more in federal loans still have to pay back for the wrong doings of the school.
Stephanie
December 10, 2019
What about those of us former students who have since paid off our loans but may have been subject to this?
rdhgal
December 20, 2019

In reply to by Stephanie

Yes, I'd like to know the answer to your question as I am in the same predicament. I paid it off last month! WOW, I hope that I am included in this settlement.