University of Phoenix Responds to FRONTLINE

University of Phoenix Responds to FRONTLINE’s “College, Inc.,” as Aired on PBS May 4, 2010


We created this site to share our official response to the FRONTLINE documentary and to address the misinformation and false allegations made by the program’s producers.

Most importantly, we want to share a simple truth that the FRONTLINE documentary overlooked: University of Phoenix is committed to doing the right thing for our students. We are dedicated to making high-quality, practical and accessible educational offerings available to working learners, and to make sure we attract and enroll only those students who have a reasonable chance of success at University of Phoenix.

In fact, within in the last six months alone, we have taken a number of proactive steps to do more than is mandated by current regulatory requirements, including the national roll-out of a free, three-week orientation program that gives students critical insights into the realities of undertaking a university degree program before they enroll or make a financial commitment to their education, and completely eliminating enrollment results as a component of employee’s compensation.

Since our founding, we have been committed to serving working adults who desire a college education and are willing to put in the effort it takes to earn a degree. We are equally committed to ensuring prospective students understand just how much effort it takes to succeed at University of Phoenix and the associated costs. Additionally, we strive to play a leadership role in continuously improving and transparently reporting the learning outcomes and achievements of our students.

Frontline:

Fact:

For-profit institutions are under-regulated

University of Phoenix is one of the most heavily regulated institutions in the country. Since our inception, we have participated in over 30 accreditation visits by regional accrediting bodies, 35 evaluations by state education agencies and undergone 10 administrative reviews by U.S. Department of Education. At our last Higher Learning Commission accreditation visit, University of Phoenix was awarded a 10-year grant of accreditation – the longest period of time for which an institution can receive approval without an interim review visit. Additionally, University of Phoenix is pleased to have again successfully addressed the findings reported by the Department of Education in our most recent program review. We take seriously our responsibilities in properly administering the Title IV program at University of Phoenix, and we are committed to maintaining rigorous internal controls to help ensure compliance with our obligations to the Department.


Frontline:

Fact:

For-profit institutions lack quality standards

University of Phoenix offers a comprehensive approach to higher education, with more than 100 degree programs at the associate through doctoral levels. Our programs are held to the same rigorous accreditation standards as public four-year colleges and universities, in addition to the myriad of regulatory standards for a market-driven institution. University of Phoenix is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association, one of six regional accrediting bodies considered to be the gold standard of accreditation. Regional accreditation is as rigorous for University of Phoenix as it is for the other major colleges and universities accredited by the North Central Association. University of Phoenix is also approved by higher education regulating agencies or bodies in 43 states, with additional program-specific state approvals as required. State approvals include rigorous academic standards, and site reviews by teams of higher education experts are often required.


Frontline:

Fact:

For-profit institutions’ cost of tuition is approximately five to six times that of community colleges

It is important to note that while public institutions are subsidized by taxpayers and represent a hefty portion of a state’s annual budget, for-profit institutions such as University of Phoenix cost taxpayers substantially less than public and non-profit institutions. Our tuition is in the mid-range nationally for private universities, and our textbook and material costs are dramatically lower than average due to our innovations in making them available in electronic format.


Frontline:

Fact:

Students of for-profit institutions struggle with excessive debt

University of Phoenix promotes responsible borrowing practices and is committed to enhancing financial literacy and reducing student debt. In fact, student debt loads at the University are within national averages compared to both public and private, non-profit four-year colleges and universities. Our students (graduating between July 2007 and June 2008) average in loans between $14,200 for associate degrees and $25,221 for bachelor’s degrees compared to the national average of $13,041-29,793 (or a mean of $23,200) as reported by the Institute for College Access and Success’ December 2009 report, Student Debt and the Class of 2008. University of Phoenix promotes responsible borrowing practices and is committed to enhancing financial literacy and reducing student debt. We recently introduced a financial literacy program and a set of tools to help students better understand the direct and indirect costs of their education, including a user-friendly financial aid calculator that helps students better manage debt levels. Since launching these tools, the number of students who take out the maximum loan amount has dropped by approximately 30 percent.. Additionally, we have dedicated resources and established partnerships with student loan servicers to communicate early and often with students to help them understand their rights and responsibilities regarding student loan repayment.


Frontline:

Fact:

Enrollment counselors at for-profit institutions are incentivized to enroll anyone

University of Phoenix is committed to providing access to a quality education, while better identifying and enrolling only those students who have a reasonable chance of success in our rigorous degree programs. As of September 1, 2010 University of Phoenix completely eliminated enrollment results as a component of employee’s compensation.


Frontline:

Fact:

For-profit institutions’ marketing spend greatly exceeds investments in faculty

University of Phoenix spends almost twice as much on instructional costs and services than we do on sales and marketing. It is important to note, however, that any measured speculation about our marketing spend should be put into context with our size and scope. University of Phoenix is the largest institution of higher learning in the U.S., serving more than 430,000 students with 100 degree programs offered online and on-campus at more than 100 locations in the U.S. Therefore, our marketing is national, versus local in scope.