On Jan. 15, the University of Phoenix was notified by the Department of Defense that it would be removed from the probationary status on which it was placed in October and would once again be eligible to accept funds from military students using tuition assistance benefits.
The university has repeatedly come under fire for its recruitment practices targeting veterans and active-duty military, which some critics have called “predatory.” A cause for concern is the sheer volume of federal funding that ends up in the hands of University of Phoenix, and what the they do with it.
In fiscal year 2014, the University of Phoenix enrolled roughly 9,400 students using the program, who took approximately 28,000 courses, costing the government more than $20 million, reports Military Times. Among veterans, the school has an even larger base. During that same period, more than 49,000 students using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill attended the school, costing more than $344 million in government funds.
Nonetheless, the military has green lit the school to again accept tuition assistance funds.
According to a statement provided to Task & Purpose by a Department of Defense official, “the removal of probationary status was warranted based on the Department’s internal review, the University’s response to the Department’s concerns as set forth in multiple potential non-compliance notifications including the Department’s letter dated October 7, 2015, the active engagement and cooperation by representatives of the University of Phoenix, and other relevant materials.”
Following the drop in probationary status, the University of Phoenix will be subject to a “heightened compliance review” for a period of one year, notes the Defense Department statement.
In the Oct. 7 letter, the DoD notified the university, which is a subsidiary of the Apollo Education Group, that it would be placed on a probationary status due to its use of official DoD “seals or other trademark insignia” as well as its failure to give proper notice to officials before going on military bases.
The letter did state that “the University of Phoenix has responded to these infractions with appropriate corrective action at this time.”
According to the letter, both the Federal Trade Commission and the California State attorney general were reviewing the university to determine if it was “engaged or are engaging in deceptive or unfair practices in or affecting commerce in the advertising, marketing, or sale of secondary or postsecondary educational products or services or education accreditation products or services.”
In an email to Task & Purpose, a statement attributed to Timothy P. Slottow, the university’s president, said, “Our commitment to compliance, transparency and continuous improvement remains constant. We are grateful to leaders at the Department of Defense and in Congress for supporting a clear process and high standards for all educational institutions, and for ensuring military students are able to use their educational benefits for career-relevant programs at University of Phoenix.”
Tuition assistance is offered to all branches of the military and allows active duty, enlisted, officers, and warrant officers to pursue off-duty education at the military’s expense. The program will fund a service member’s tuition up to $250 per semester credit hour or $166 per quarter credit hour, and cannot exceed $4,500 per fiscal year.