A Personal Correspondence From Dr. Pepicello to ABC News

August 18, 2010

Dear ABC News:

Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to share our perspective directly with Good Morning America's viewers and online readers, following my recent interview with Chris Cuomo.

As I told Mr. Cuomo, University of Phoenix has strong student protection measures in place, and we do not tolerate deceptive practices by any employee. We have strict and unambiguous policies in place to ensure prospective students are able to make a fully-informed decision about the University and their ability to succeed here, including the realities of incurring debt to pay for a college education.

It saddens and disappoints me to note that sometimes, these policies are not adhered to by our employees, though I want to stress that we take immediate action to address any such violation, up to and including termination of the employees involved. Let me be clear: even one violation of our student protection policies is one too many, and as president of this University I am committed to ensuring it does not happen. In fact, we have already undertaken a number of important new measures focused on student protection, including:

  • Financial literacy tools that help students understand the facts about financial aid and how much they need to borrow, which has already resulted in an approximate 30 percent decrease in the number of students who take out the maximum loan amount;
  • A free three-week program called University Orientation, which helps students with little or no college experience understand what it takes to succeed in a challenging academic environment like ours, before taking on the burden of college debt;
  • A digital call-monitoring system to track and record tens of thousands of phone calls every day, between prospective students and counselors, for any evidence of false or misleading information; and
  • A firm commitment to completely eliminate enrollment targets as a component of the evaluation and compensation of our enrollment representatives.

Our main focus is and will always be serving our students, and ensuring their success by equipping them with the tools they need to compete and thrive in a changing global economy. We are extremely proud of our track record in serving students, and even more proud of the thousands of working learners who have improved their lives and advanced their careers after graduating from our University.

Consider these results from our 2009 Academic Annual Report:

  • During their enrollment, University of Phoenix students experience greater annual salary increases than the national average for all workers: in 2008, our bachelor's program students experienced an 8.5 percent salary increase, while our master's program students saw an average increase of 9.7 percent;
  • University of Phoenix students report higher satisfaction rates than their peers across the nation in each of the ten categories surveyed by the National Survey of Student Engagement;
  • We are a leader in educating "non-traditional" college students, a group that comprises 73 percent of all college students, according to the U.S. Department of Education; and
  • At about $12,000 per year, University of Phoenix tuition and fees are in the midrange nationally, and our textbook and material costs are dramatically lower than average.

We are committed to remaining at the forefront of innovation in higher education and, coupled with the measures we are undertaking to enhance student protection, we are confident University of Phoenix will yield even greater outcomes for our students.

Sincerely,

William J. Pepicello, President
University of Phoenix

What ABC News Left Out

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