University of Phoenix Settlement With Federal Trade Commission
University of Phoenix is dedicated to providing nontraditional students the opportunity to get access to higher education. Since Dr. John Sperling founded the institution in 1976, University of Phoenix has spent decades providing quality education to underrepresented working adult students. The University’s efforts have always been driven by the desire to build an institution that offers the flexibility and support our students need to earn their academic goals. University of Phoenix remains as committed to this mission as we have ever been.
On December 10, 2019, the University announced a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). After cooperating fully with the FTC’s inquiry, the University is pleased to have reached this settlement agreement and resolved this matter, which principally focused on a marketing campaign that ran from late 2012 to early 2014. The campaign occurred under prior ownership and concluded before the FTC’s inquiry began. The FTC made allegations concerning a campaign that ended in 2014 that were not tested through litigation, and do not constitute factual findings by either the FTC or any court. The University continues to believe it has acted appropriately and has admitted no wrongdoing. This settlement agreement will enable the University to maintain focus on its core mission of improving the lives of students through career-relevant higher education, and to avoid any further distraction from serving students that could have resulted from protracted litigation, as well as the time and expense of the litigation itself.
Affected students with debt relief eligibility questions can contact us at UOPXFinance@phoenix.edu or 1-800-333-5305.
UPDATE: For more information about the FTC’s distribution of consumer redress checks or Paypal payments to affected students, please consult the FTC’s website at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2021/03/ftc-sends-nearly-50-million-refunds-university-phoenix-students.
The University remains committed to enhancing the student experience, driving improved student outcomes, and continuing the institution’s legacy of making it possible for working adult students to succeed.
- The University’s parent company was issued a broad investigative demand by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in July 2015 to examine all advertising and marketing activities and practices. The FTC’s demand was disclosed publicly at the time.
- After cooperating fully with the FTC’s inquiry, we are pleased to have reached this settlement and resolved this matter, which principally focused on a marketing campaign that ran from late 2012 to early 2014.
- The campaign occurred under prior ownership and concluded before the FTC’s inquiry began.
- We continue to believe the University has acted appropriately and we have admitted no wrongdoing.
- This settlement will enable us to maintain focus on our core mission of improving the lives of students through career-relevant higher education, and to avoid any further distraction from serving students that could have resulted from protracted litigation, as well as the time and expense of the litigation itself.
- As determined by the terms of the settlement, a certain designated population of students who first enrolled between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 are eligible for relief from accounts owed directly to the University. Other debts, including, but not limited to, federal student loans, are not covered and remain due pursuant to their terms.
- The University will automatically release outstanding account balances for this designated population of students. These students do not need to take any action. The University will notify them and manage the processing of their debt forgiveness.
- The University will ask the credit reporting agencies (Experian and Equifax) to delete the official record of debt for outstanding account balances for this designated population of students. The credit reporting agencies will then be responsible for processing any updates to the affected students’ credit reports.
- To the extent that access to diplomas or transcripts was restricted for these students because of the previously outstanding balance, the University will lift that restriction and will make official transcripts available upon request for this designated population of students at the cost of the published transcript fee. This will allow these students to more easily pursue further higher education if they choose.
- The University has also agreed to pay $50,000,000 to be distributed at the sole discretion of the FTC. Please consult the FTC’s official website at www.ftc.gov for more information.
- A certain designated population of students who first enrolled between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 are eligible. These students’ accounts will be cleared automatically. There is no action required of the student.
What about students who attended the University during a time period not covered by the settlement? Can they seek relief?
- As covered by the settlement, only a certain designated population of students who first enrolled between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 are entitled to debt relief for accounts owed directly to the University.
- This does not impact our day-to-day operations or ability to provide our students with a quality education in any way.
- There will be no impact on graduates and former students of the University beyond the terms of the settlement. Graduates’ degrees remain unchanged, as will any credits or credentials earned during students’ time at the University.
- This will not have significant impact on the University's financial standing or day-to-day operations.
- The University will remain financially responsible with regard to the U.S. Department of Education's composite score calculation.
- Our commitment to military-affiliated students remains unchanged, strong, and steadfast.
- The 140,000 University of Phoenix military-affiliated graduates are a testament to our longstanding success in helping nontraditional, adult students pursue rigorous, career-oriented degrees.
- They have served our country with distinction and are among the most capable at making informed decisions about their education. They have some of the highest graduation rates in the University—they work hard, they are dedicated to their studies, and we’re proud to serve them.
- We will continue to focus on helping military-affiliated students achieve academic success, including crafting and providing programs to fit their needs.
Is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) still considering suspending enrollment of new or current students using GI Bill benefits at University of Phoenix because of the FTC Settlement?
- The VA has confirmed that there will be no interruption to the use of GI Bill benefits by new or current University of Phoenix students. You can use your GI Bill benefits as expected.
- As the VA has noted, “Since 2013, the VA has conducted 130+ compliance reviews of UoP locations, to include specific marketing reviews in 2017 and 2019. UoP has fully complied with these audits. No findings related to deceptive or misleading advertising or marketing were cited.”
- University of Phoenix has always been committed to the belief that student veterans have earned the right to choose the institutions that best fit their needs, and this news vindicates that principle.
The DVA noted in their email correspondence that the state approving agencies (SAAs) could still take action that could impact my benefits, is this true?
Per federal regulations, any action taken by State Approving Agencies would only immediately impact NEW students who are not currently enrolled or who do not remain continuously enrolled. Therefore, your benefits are not currently at risk, and you can continue your coursework as normal.
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the University is required to notify you that it will share your personal information with the Federal Trade Commission pursuant to the terms of the stipulated Order that was entered in December 2019. The information will be shared with the FTC as part of its settlement administration process. If you want to object to the sharing of your personal information with the FTC, please send an email to University.Legal@Phoenix.edu. The University is not involved in the distribution of funds and cannot answer questions related to it. Please direct all inquiries related to the distribution of settlement funds to the FTC.