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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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TC
December 11, 2019
Why is it only for students who owe the school directly? What about most of us who took out government student loans to pay the school (financial aid)? What are we to do? I was enrolled from July 2012 to December 2014.
Ezetad
December 12, 2019

In reply to by TC

I agree. Do we need to start a class action for those of us with federal student loans during this time frame. FTC HOW IS THIS RIGHT?
thar
December 11, 2019
I was enrolled during the timeframe but my loan is officially paid off although I’m privately paying it back. Can I get my debt cancelled?
Tammy A Walsh
December 11, 2019
I am a bit confused by this whole lawsuit, I was misled by the University of Phoenix as well. But I got my student loan money through the school via US government loans. These loans were dispursed by the Appolo group. I am 70- in student loan debt due to all of their incompetence. Come get a good education they said you will get a great job..... As I sit in the same job I was at when I started now two degrees in the same time frame you are talking about yet mine may not be forgiven and others will? This does not seem fair. How do you owe money to the school? The shcool helped you get the loans from the Fed Gov. I guess I just dont understand.
Jason
December 11, 2019
So the forgiveness is for monies owned directly to the university has no effect on your actual federal student loans. Since you can't graduate without paying off everything owed to the university, we are talking about refunding library fines to students who never graduated. Now they did agree to return 50 million in refunds, and since they enroll around 100k new students every year, 5 years, we are talking about a half-million students. Which means maybe around $100 per student. Great work, my wife gets scammed for 50k, the FTC settles this for $100. Thanks for protecting our interests FTC, you really earned my vote!
RidiculousIfYouAskMe
January 19, 2020

In reply to by Jason

Is there a way to fight this settlement? I don't believe the UoP is being help accountable at all... it seems there are some valid opinions in this forum on the matter.
Tcat1973
December 11, 2019
This agreement is just as frustrating as coming out of UOP with degrees, student loan debts and being unable to find a decent paying job!! Who does this really benefit?? I believe every person the attended UOP did it with the mindset we were doing it to better our lives and were sold a pipe dream. What loans were given to students that are not federal or private because I have both!!!!!! Maybe the millions that have been slighted by the FTC AND UOP should seek assistance by file our own suit against them!!
Just Curious
December 11, 2019
If I enrolled August 2012, withdrew for family emergencies, and re-enrolled in 2013 does a portion count toward being dropped? Or none of it since I went first enrolled in August?
Bachelor With Debt
December 11, 2019
Is it truth that only students with balances direct with UOP will be forgiven ? I heard federal student loans will not be part of this settlement even if they attended on the mentioned dates . Would you please clarify ?
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by Bachelor With Debt

Under the settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix, the University will cancel $141 million in debts 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.

Dharp
December 11, 2019
So I first attended Sept 2012 and graduated Oct 2019. I bought into the whole loan and job advertisement. But I owe federal student loans...why can't students that owe the FSL be forgiven too since we were all lied too.
Jbadirondacks
December 11, 2019
This would be nice if it applies to those of us sitting on thousands of dollars in student loans for educations that are useless. Sadly, is it that fine print' owed to the school' that basically says they will erase the bills you still owe directly to them but could care less about those who have loans that already paid them? Can anyone clarify that?
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by Jbadirondacks

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 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.

David G.
December 11, 2019
I enrolled for my BA in 2015, and continued on to my MBA early 2018. I owe nothing to the school because I took student loans. Will I be eligible for anything? Nearly no one would owe the school money directly, limiting it to that would make this settlement useless.
FTC Staff
December 16, 2019

In reply to by David G.

The University will also pay $50 million to the FTC. The FTC will use the money to make payments to students. We will publish information about the payments at www.consumer.ftc.gov when it's available.

R_1517, _ MG37
December 20, 2019
My Thank sir for assistance my case!
Lloop
December 11, 2019
What if you paid your loan off with another type of loan, how is that going to work?
SaraK
December 12, 2019
I don't understand, so basically no one will will get debt relief because they have student loans. Who owes money directly to the school? That doesn't make sense, we have student loans.
frisco14
December 12, 2019
I repaid my student loans by selling my house, will I get my money back?
audrey
December 12, 2019
I signed up for the university after watching a 2012 ad. I paid in both cash directly to the school and through federal student loans. I thought it was weird they kept asking me to fill out my FAFSA at weird times of the year claiming they needed more money. How could I go about covering my federal loans? I graduated in June this year and I still do not have permanent employment.
debtforever
December 12, 2019
If you were enrolled between 2012-2016 and paid the school directly, will University of Phoenix be required to refund students? Unfortunately, I had to pay in order to obtain my transcripts to continue my education at another university. Also, some articles are stating federal student loans are not included. Thank you for the update.
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by debtforever

Under the settlement between the FTC and the University of Phoenix, the University will cancel $141 million in debts that people who first enrolled between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 owe directly to the school.  The University is cancelling debts that people still owe to the school. Cancelling a debt is different from sending a refund.

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

Frustrated and…
December 12, 2019
I was a student during that time period and i am $140,000 in debt in student loans. Some from UOP. Will they forgive the loans that are in a federal loan payment program?
Jenny
December 12, 2019
So.... this won’t cover federal or private loan forgiveness? I am a Veteran, and the man who sold me on this was also a veteran working for this school. I was only receiving my GI benefits which at the time wasn’t much. Single mom too... sucks.
mfcr
December 12, 2019
This settlement is for students that owe directly to the school? This was never an option. UOP never gave the option of financing. I have talked to classmates and this was never a option for them either! The only option they gave was federal loans or private and many of us have been affected by their misleading ads! What about us with $65,000 in fed loans!!
getoutofhere
December 12, 2019
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.
Rduskin
December 17, 2019
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?
FTC Staff
December 17, 2019

In reply to by Rduskin

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.

Zyante
October 06, 2021

In reply to by Rduskin

I went during that time too. They lied, said I received money I never did and I can’t even get my transcripts from them. The $8000.00 of money of now $30,000. It’s a crock to just limit this to 2012-2016. They’ve been doing it the entire time.
Ember21
December 12, 2019
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.
Jade
December 12, 2019
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.
Rusty
December 12, 2019
I enrolled in June 2012 and graduated in 2014 would any of that time be considered for part of the settlement.
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by Rusty

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.

Mg11
December 12, 2019
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.
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by Mg11

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.

Meg
December 12, 2019
Do we only get refunded if we borrowed money from the school or does it count if we have a government loan?
Kae
December 12, 2019
Is it debt that is owed directly to the school? Or is it studen loan debs owed to the department of education as well?
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by Kae

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.

cma
December 12, 2019
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?
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by cma

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.

Ambermt
December 12, 2019
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?
MMarq
December 12, 2019
I just paid off my loan. Will I still get a refund? And how, since the loan no longer exists.
FTC Staff
December 17, 2019

In reply to by MMarq

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.

devry student …
December 17, 2019
Hello to the FTC Staff commenting. Will there likely be a second round of checks coming around after the first ones?
FTC Staff
December 17, 2019

In reply to by devry student …

This settlement is not about DeVry.

Chris S.
December 12, 2019
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?
FTC Staff
December 12, 2019

In reply to by Chris S.

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.

Samuel
December 19, 2019
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,
sagnew15
December 12, 2019
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.
Carlson Ramos
December 12, 2019
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,