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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.

937 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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FTC Staff
December 17, 2019

In reply to by Frankie j

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.

Joe
December 12, 2019
What about individuals who took out student loans and now have a useless degree for this institution
VN
December 12, 2019
What is the reasoning behind the exclusion of federal loans?
Awanaangel
December 16, 2019
I also attended UoP online. Never once was there a mention of me owing to the school because they applied for me to get Grant's and loans putting me in debt to the tune of $60,000. Why isnt the FTC forcing the UOP to pay back ALL loans including any to Sally Mae, Dept of Ed, etc...Those of us who attended during this time were hoodwinked too. I cant afford to pay back the loans that UOP forced me to take out. My student loan holders are on the verge of taking me to court. Please help us too FTC!!!
FTC Staff
December 17, 2019

In reply to by Awanaangel

The Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education has information about repaying student loans at www.StudentLoans.gov. 

There's information about different ways of repaying, how to consolidate loans, what to do if your loans have gone into default because you haven't paid.

Ezetad
December 12, 2019
What about all we put in using pell grants and financial aid
emad
December 19, 2019
what if you took out a federal loan? is that forgiven as well?
FTC Staff
December 16, 2019

In reply to by emad

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

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 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.

FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by emad

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

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.

EducatedFool
December 12, 2019
I'm all for this! But what I would like to know is what is going to happen to the students who were signed up to this school under false pretenses? Meaning lying to people who don't have a high school diploma and telling them it's fine you can still get financial aid even without a diploma. Which I have told the Department of Education and nothing has happened. Absolutely nothing! I was enrolled the end of 2011. I need help with this matter! The school scams people and lies!
vxm
December 12, 2019
I am jobless still. What’s the criteria for the cash refund out of the 50 million?
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by vxm

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

Zach Fernandez
December 12, 2019
This will really help all of us that have degrees from this institution to further our careers and fyi this was going on before 2012 in the N Cal area
jewls
December 12, 2019
I was notified by UOP today that the money I owe them will be forgiven. Does this mean I will get a cash settlement from the FTC also? What exactly are the cash settlements you will be paying out for?
audrey
December 12, 2019
I enrolled and started at the university in 2015 after I saw a commercial. I've paid for schooling both directly with cash and through student loans. Will I qualify? As far as I know they wouldn't let me continue classes unless I paid. I graduated in June and still have not found a job despite their promises of great hiring rates. For my fed loans would I have to file a borrower defense?
Cdear91
December 12, 2019
I enrolled at the uop in march of 2015. In 2017 they told me that my program may not be accredited/paid for. They told me that I had to pay for the program out of pocket. Therefore, I withdrew from the uop in August 2017. Ended up going back in February 2018 and had to switch majors to something I really didn't want to do. I was told I could be a psychologist in 2015 then was discouraged in 2017. Now i am unhappily studying business and accounting and I am still enrolled there for some odd reason. I'm upset about going in debt for a degree i do not want to pursue. Will my debts be forgiven?
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by Cdear91

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

Veteran214
December 13, 2019
I attended UOP 2008 and graduated October 31, 2012. Do I qualify as part of the settlement?
In Debt for Life
December 13, 2019
If I read this correctly, if I first enrolled in January 2011 and earned my degree in June 2013 I'm not eligible because I wasn't FIRST enrolled in October 2012. This should be for anyone that was enrolled during this time frame. The school claims a high job placement after graduation but they never even helped me after I was done with them.
Amy K
December 17, 2019

In reply to by In Debt for Life

I totally agree. I went to school.there and graduated 2013. This should all be included in this time frame! Total bs they didnt help get me get a job. Not even close. Lies
lishalong
December 13, 2019
I enrolled in April 2012 under the same impression as everyone else. How will I know if I qualify for the refund and debt owed?
R.Lightner
December 13, 2019
I am seeing that under the stipulations of the settlement the Federal Trade Commission are only mandating University of Phoenix to pay back loans directly associated with the University and not Navient or FAFSA loans. Many of us who applied and attended the college took out private loans because of the same pretense and now to find out this settlement does not cover us.... isn't this judgment and agreement bias? If University of Phoenix is only "forgiving" loans that students took directly from the institution, they are not really settling a $191 million dollar debt they are stating that they will not hold students to the loan to the institution. Which in fact means they are not paying anything. What about us who took out Navient and FAFSA loans?
FTC Staff
December 13, 2019

In reply to by R.Lightner

Under the settlement unanimously approved by the Commission, UOP will pay $50 million in cash as well as cancel $141 million in debts owed to the school by students who were harmed by the deceptive ads.

The FTC will use $50 million for payments to students. When we have information about how the FTC will manage the payments we'll publish it on www.consumer.ftc.gov. 

Aria79
December 13, 2019
I have been seeing ads about this and on one it said to call if you had not yet received a letter. It's called [Business name removed] Everything sounded good till they said I would have to make payments for all the processing that will be done on my behalf. To be exact they are saying, $900.00 broken up into 5 monthly payments. I have been googling like crazy trying to determine if I qualify and who to speak with. Based on what I have read here, it seems like we will be contacted. So why is this company promising this and even involved, and is this even legitimate considering. But someone else asked a question that was not answered, if you attended and have since moved as well as changed contact information how will the department of education ensure that these students will be reached?
FTC Staff
December 13, 2019

In reply to by Aria79

Yes! If your debt is cancelled, the University will contact you. No one can get the letter for you, even if you pay them.

Thank you for alerting people about the ad you saw - it sounds like a scam.

The University is cancelling debts that people owe directly to the school. Generally, when businesses need to reach people, they use their own records or use the Postal Service Mail Forwarding service to locate them.

Koppsmb1
December 15, 2019

In reply to by Aria79

That is a scam do not go for that. They will take your money and run.
gam3on
December 13, 2019
What if you owe the money to a student loan company?
zaxhere247
December 13, 2019
I attended University of Phoenix from 2005 to 2013 graduation. I feel duped. Do I qualify for a refund? If so how do I go about inquiring?
FTC Staff
December 16, 2019

In reply to by zaxhere247

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 between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

The University is not giving refunds. It is cancelling debts that people owe to the University, if those people enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

Jdelgado0522
December 13, 2019
I enrolled in the beginning of 2016 and withdrew from UOPX in 2018. I did owe the school directly $948.00 and paid it off before withdrawing. Do I qualify? And if so, will I be refunded what I paid the school directly?
Ddelmoral
December 13, 2019
I went to umiversity of.Phoenix and it rwaulted in iver 110k in student loan debt. My masters.degree disnt eeww ben cost that and ai had a pell grant when attending phoenix. Can I get refunded?
FTC Staff
December 16, 2019

In reply to by Ddelmoral

The University is not giving refunds. Under this settlement with the FTC, it is cancelling debts that people owe to the University, if those people enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

Frustrated
December 13, 2019
What if we attended before 2012 and the same deceptive practices were used and I would like to know if my loans are going to be discharged or any refunds to military students who still do this day have not found a job?
FTC Staff
December 16, 2019

In reply to by Frustrated

The University is not giving refunds. Under this settlement with the FTC, it is cancelling debts that people owe to the University, if those people enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

Doris L.
December 14, 2019
The population they targeted are more likely to apply for federal loans, this settlement is specific to those who owe the school directly. That makes no sense! As if those who applied through federal loans were not affected by the false advertisement.
as2019
December 14, 2019
I started classes with the University of Phoenix in February of 2014 and graduated this year. All of my funding for school came from federal student loans; thus, I don't have debt with the school "directly." So, does this mean that I will not have my loans forgiven because I don't owe the school but rather I owe the lender for paying the school? Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.
Raj
December 14, 2019
So, this settlement doesn’t include so many students, who borrowed money under federal student loan program withIn the time frame of University’s deceptive practice? What can of justice is this? This is same school and Why Federal Loan will not be forgiven and reimbursed?
Ling ling
December 14, 2019
I went to university of pheonix and had debt. It also went to collections soo i paid it off. Will i get a refund as well?
FTC Staff
December 16, 2019

In reply to by Ling ling

The University is not giving refunds. Under this settlement with the FTC, it is cancelling debts that people owe to the University, if those people enrolled for the first time between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016.

48087djr
December 14, 2019
I was definitely one of many that was made to believe that a education with phoenix university would provide opportunities for employment with some very successful organization. 2degrees and 150k in student debts it never happened. None of the fore mentioned organizations even recognized my degree. How do I become a recipient of this debt relief? I was a active student during this time.
ryanfisch
December 14, 2019
I enrolled durin 2016 and I am just about to finish. If my school debt is forgiven would it be for my entire time with the university or just the 2016 perios?
FTC Staff
December 16, 2019

In reply to by ryanfisch

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

aims78
December 17, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

That is a lie.. People took out loans to pay for their schooling for here. The school is the one that set up our loans for most of us. they need to cancel that debt.. that is what is right.
Dsiggy62
December 14, 2019
They should have to pay Nelnet for these BS loans ! They took me to the bank with lies and told me I’d lose my loans from the dept of education if I took time off while my father was in ICU dying and then changes the entire way to upload and do your online school and I was just too stressed to try and relearn! I told them immediately and instead of refunding me and dropping my classes , they high pressured me with lies and deceit knowing how this hardship with my father was affecting me! They are frauds and “ we” are paying student loans back ? They should have to pay Nelnet back this is totally BS!!!!!!
lg
December 14, 2019
I attended for one year roughly around 2009-2010 . I was told I would be getting help to apply for free grants and guaranteed a job when I graduated. I dropped out when I started to realize non of this was true, the courses were not even college type material and I ended up with $5,000 in student loans that seem to never go down. When I try to contact anyone about transcripts or any documents there is never an answer or good telephone number or no response to emails. It’s so frustrating! I was just trying to do something to get a better job and education and all it has done is been another burden.
Michelle
December 15, 2019
I went to that school and got stuck with loans one credit left and they wouldn't let me finish I was there that year do I get debt cancelled I had to do that lower my payments because I'm on disability please Lord tell me I won't die owing these people.
Meme
December 15, 2019
This settlement is unfair money is money what difference does it make where it comes from. We all have the same story. I will be finding out what can be done. My outcome is the exact same as others a outragious student loan and no job.
Solonzo
December 15, 2019
This isn't fair! Their deceptive advertising started as early as 2008! I was drawn in by it naively since I just moved from Africa to the U.S. The loan system and prospects were so confusing to me. This isn't fair at all. Why are the rest of us still being punished by making us continue to pay these debts?! Go back to 2008 and see how far their false advertising goes, not just 2012!
Danielle R.
December 16, 2019
I enrolled in Uni. Phoenix in 7/2014 and one of the main reason was because of their "connections" and job assistance. I graduated in 2017. I am currently in debt beyond words and I also never recieved a grant that was supposed to be sent directly to me because of a hiccup!! I need to know how do I go about requesting a full refund on a degree that I will because of their NOW rep and misleading connections with organizations that they even made so believable by offering the entire MICROSOFT OFFICE SUITE free of charge!! BUT I may not ever be able to use!! As a consumer I am baffled!!!
FTC Staff
December 19, 2019

In reply to by Danielle R.

The University is not offering refunds on degrees as part of the settlement with the FTC.

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 Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education has information about repaying student loans at www.StudentLoans.gov. The Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education has information about repaying student loans at www.StudentLoans.gov. There's information about different ways of repaying, how to consolidate loans, what to do if your loans have gone into default.