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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

maggiel
December 10, 2019
What are the dates for the advertising, as i have been trying for 2 years to get these loans discharged, because of this practice?
FTC Staff
December 10, 2019

In reply to by maggiel

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.

Pat
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Please explain (directly to the School) Does this mean the loans from the School or the Apollo Group? I understand the federal and other private loans will not be paid. Need more clarification.
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by Pat

Some students who enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 owe money directly to the University for fees and other charges. The University will cancel $141 million that students owe the University.

Under the settlement, 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.

Jarrod B
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

How am I even suppose to live. I am ashamed of my degree that I’m literaly supposed to get. I seriously have two classes left and now I’m going to be looked at like the guy who went to Phoenix and not for the work ethic I’ve put in.... Wow this settlement doesn’t even touch what I’m going through. I can’t even get anyone to respect that I went to Phoenix after this whole debacle. I need help discharging my federal loans that I was hustled into. Not to mention that I am a spouse or military and were sold a dream job.
Angry UoP Graduate
December 15, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Are there opportunities for the studentloan debt to be forgiven for those who qualify? Those who furnish sustainable proof? Its almost impossible to owe the school directly given the cost of tuition exceeds most brick & mortar institutions, almost every student would have had to take out a student loan. This suit would then only apply to those who did not graduate, or those whose unpaid school debt went to a 3rd party creditor. Either way it is therefore bias and only subject to further suit. Please help me understand?
TW
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

They should go back further. I was promised employment assistance in 2011 when I started, and once I graduated, there was no help at all.
Ronnie gibbons
February 07, 2020

In reply to by maggiel

I'm a graduate and wondering if I'm a part of this setelment
Jjlogan
December 10, 2019
I am current student at the university of Phoenix, do you should I transfer out and also would I get any money back?
Don't use your…
December 10, 2019
How well we receive a refund for this since I’ve moved since I went to university of phoenix
FTC Staff
December 17, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

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. Generally, if a business needs to find you, they will use their own records or the Postal Service Mail Forwarding records to find your current address.

Jwill
December 10, 2019
I received both my Bachelor's and MBA from UoP. I still to this day have never received a job offer despite the qualifications I have. After leaving the military in 2009 I needed school. By 2015 (Master's graduation) I was hopeful for a job. Oh well. FTC, I was required to pay the school back on debts that went on my credit report. Is that covered too?
Mrs.PG
December 10, 2019
Thank goodness. Many people have gone into debt with nothing to show for it. Thank you FTC!!
Cole96marisol2
December 10, 2019
I’m currently enrolled in my last class. Have been attending for 5 years. How do I know if I will be refunded? So the school is shutting down for good?
FTC Staff
December 17, 2019

In reply to by Cole96marisol2

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.

Mike
December 10, 2019
I got my MBA there, biggest waste of time and $$$. I have a loan payment enough for a luxury car for the next 21 years. The whole school needs to be wiped out along with all debt.
Jammj
December 10, 2019
And that's how they got me to apply and attend, how far are they going back
Cgud
December 10, 2019
I attended the University of Phoenix for both under and grand school. How do I contact someone about my loans and the tuition I paid out of my pocket?
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by Cgud

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.

S.Crawford
December 10, 2019
I used my post 9-11 benefits for UOP how is that refunded?
FTC Staff
January 17, 2020

In reply to by S.Crawford

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.

SB
December 10, 2019
Definitely looking into this. I just paid a balance off less than 2 months ago and owe a good bit in student loans for the empty promises.
SuzyQ
December 10, 2019
What is the time frame of being debt free from University of Phoenix? So how long will take to get that letter?
FTC Staff
December 10, 2019

In reply to by SuzyQ

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.

Shauna
December 10, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

What does it mean owe directly to the school? If I got a Federal student loan to attend is that part of this settlement?
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by Shauna

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

The University 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.

JCN
December 10, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

How about people that was deceived before 2012, I started in 2011 and owe a lot of money right now with no degree to show for it. The same with my wife, my wife only had 1 class to get her degree and they told her that she has to enrolled in more program to finish that.
Thchick
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

If I graduated from there in 2013 and then enrolled for my BA in 2014, does that mean my BA would qualify? Also, is this for student loans that I owe to the government?
LaShondra
December 10, 2019
I attended Devry University. Is this school part of the University of Phoenix?
dionnec9
December 10, 2019
I was told I would receive a Human Resources Management degree. I asked repeatedly and was told several times that is what it would state on my degree. At graduation I received a Business Administration degree with no mention of the four years of study in and towards an HR Mgt. degree. I’ve attempted to discuss this with representatives from the University on various occasions to no avail. Is this not also a fraudulent activity?
FTC Staff
December 10, 2019

In reply to by dionnec9

You can report a problem you have with a business to the FTC at www.FTC.gov/Complaint.

TheSeeker
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

I just graduated from the University of Phoenix in April of this year. I started in April 2014, and was infact attracted by online ads. I put in five years straight of overachievement, no sleep, working as hard as I possibly could, and being overly committed. In addition, I had to work full time and complete an extensive betterment program at the same time. It was equivalent of a part time job, my fourth year I worked two jobs, and my fifth year I was pregnant with severe complications and we almost didn't make it. The ads and the counselors stated I would increase my opportunities, salary range, and the PhoenixConnect Alumni portal would allow recruitment opportunities. Neither has been the case and I am still unemployed after applying to a million jobs, speaking to a career counselor and doing everything suggested, joining the alumni portal, and connecting my LinkedIn account. I currently owe about $67,000 in student loan debt to the government. I don't understand how this settlement would not apply to me. I applied at the time the deception occurred, I had the exact same experience, I have been effected by it greatly, and I can prove all of the above. So what exactly am I supposed to do? Suffer for 20 years and have to pay it anyway, even after they were just ordered to cancel the debt to anyone who was deceived during that time? My car was repossessed, I lost literally everything, and I still don't have a job. I can confidently say that I have probably applied to more jobs than anyone. I am past the thousands in an eight month period. I also had a baby four months before graduation, which has made things even more dire. I am so distraught to get this news after everything I did for five years, I kept wondering why I haven't found anything yet. I have put in the continual daily effort to get hired and I even graduated with a 3.7 GPA and member of two honor societies. Someone please help me figure out what the next course of action is to appeal my lack of inclusion in this matter. Just because I owe the government I am still held accountable? Then why doesn't the school pay the government for me? I could just have a complete and total melt down right now after all of my suffering, persistence, neglect of my own health, over commitment, and five years of torture and lack of sleep. All for what, to be worse off then I was before? To have a degree from a University who's reputation has been shattered, and can't uphold their assurances and proclamations of this so called better life with a real career? I earned my degree, no one is going to take that away from me. Certainly not, while I must continue to pay it off for the rest of my life. This is absurd, I have every right to be included in this settlement. If you knew what I went through to earn it and the sacrifices I made then you would most definitely understand. I want a career and my debt paid off, because everything is relative not one way across the board. If anyone deserves this, it is I. I am not discounting or degrading anyone elses efforts, sacrifices, and so forth. Only stating my own.
Debblrogers
December 11, 2019

In reply to by dionnec9

Me too! I was advised I would have a degree in Human Service Management and I ended up with a degree in arts.
kcooley
December 10, 2019
I went to University of Phoenix from 2009-2012 had one class left to graduate with a bachelor’s in Psychology and was notified they were not accredited by the BCBA in psychology. Will I be eligible to remove the $50000 I have?
FTC Staff
December 10, 2019

In reply to by kcooley

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.  The University will cancel debts that people owe directly to the school. This settlement will not affect your federal or private loan debts.  If you think you have been defrauded or deceived in connection with a federal student loan, you can apply for loan forgiveness through the Borrower Defense to Repayment procedures.

alphafemale
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

So this only applies to funds owed directly to the school and NOT to students who still owe federal loans used to pay for their education during the same time frame? Why? Can’t the argument be made that those students were just as affected?
pc
December 11, 2019

In reply to by alphafemale

I have the same question. I'm not understanding if only those who paid directly to the school will benefit from this settlement. Those who owe federal loans are in the same predicament because at the end, they're paying the same school. The reason for applying for those loans was to pay the university.
RidiculousIfYouAskMe
January 19, 2020

In reply to by pc

I don;t have experience on this site, but can we all open up a separate complaint with the FTC on the fact that this settlement isn't "settling" anything at all. We were all forced to pay for classes or come up with a lot of money (hello, student loans!) or else we couldn't start classes. I most certainly was not told I could have a direct loan with the school. I don't get it....wish someone else here could explain better why those with student loans aren't just as affected as anyone else.
FTC Staff
December 11, 2019

In reply to by alphafemale

Under the settlement, the University of Phoenix will cancel $141 million in debts certain former students owe directly to the school. The University will send a notice to each person whose debt to the school is being cancelled.

The University will also make a $50 million cash payment to the FTC. The FTC will use the money to make payments to students who were harmed by the advertising. We will publish more information about the FTC payments on www.consumer.ftc.gov when it's available.

InquiryGuy709
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

Do these debts include refunds to amounts paid to the school during that time window such as tuition
FTC Staff
December 13, 2019

In reply to by InquiryGuy709

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

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. Cancelling a debt is different from getting a refund.

sagnew15
December 12, 2019

In reply to by alphafemale

I was wondering the same thing. I attended UOP between 2013 and 2016. I owe federal loans because of UOP. I want to make sure that I am apart of it. I was affected by those advertisements and I was told directly by a recruiter that I would be able to get a job right out of school. I want the FTC to elaborate on the "DIRECTLY OWED TO THE SCHOOL" comment.
Ritam
June 13, 2020

In reply to by sagnew15

I was just informed from the Borrows Defense for Student Lian Forgiveness that if you do not have what we all were told as proof then your loans cannot be discharged.
Vince
December 11, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

So I have student loans from December 2015 through December 2016, I am eligible for this correct? In order to proceed the program you couldn’t be negative in your account. So how does this not affect loan debts which we paid to the school at an unfair rate.
Amy KDon't use…
December 10, 2019
I was a former student, and I always questioned why they could never help with a job connection, for me! I am glad they came to this resolution of course.
Walter
December 10, 2019
From what time period will this lawsuit apply too?
Amy KDon't use…
December 10, 2019
What time period, was this in? I went there 2009 until 2013. And then 2015 to 2017 for my MBA and i have 5 classes left.
Pwn
December 10, 2019
It would be really helpful to know the time period that is in question. I attended and graduated from UofPHX and was promised a nearly direct career path in management. Here I am years later, 40K in student loan debt and no career.
Renee
December 10, 2019
I have been attending the University for over a year, does this settlement include current students?