University of Phoenix to cancel $141 million in student debt

December 12, 2019

By Scott Olson, NBC News

The University of Phoenix and its parent company have agreed to pay $50 million in cash and cancel $141 million in student debt to settle allegations of deceptive advertisement brought by the Federal Trade Commission.

The deal, announced Tuesday, settles a dispute over an ad campaign the for-profit college launched in 2012 touting partnerships with companies including Microsoft, Twitter and Adobe. It suggested the school worked with those companies to create job opportunities for students, even though there was no such agreement, investigators found.

Image: University Of Phoenix

The Federal Trade Commission said the settlement is the largest the agency has ever obtained against a for-profit college.

“Students making important decisions about their education need the facts, not fantasy job opportunities that do not exist,” said Andrew Smith, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The University of Phoenix said in a statement that much of the dispute focused on a single ad campaign that ran from 2012 to 2014. It said it agreed to the deal “to avoid any further distraction from serving students.”

“The campaign occurred under prior ownership and concluded before the FTC’s inquiry began. We continue to believe the University acted appropriately,” the company said.

Apollo Education Group owns the University of Phoenix. The Arizona-based for-profit college chain has 55 campuses across the nation and teaches thousands of students through its online programs. It’s the nation’s largest recipient of GI Bill tuition benefits for military veterans.

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