In this Nov 24, 2009, file photo, a University of Phoenix billboard is shown in Chandler, Ariz. The University of Phoenix for-profit college and its parent company will pay $50 million and cancel $141 million in student debt to settle allegations of deceptive advertisement brought by the Federal Trade Commission. (AP Photo/Matt York)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The University of Phoenix, which is owned by Apollo Education Group, has agreed to pay $191 million to settle charges that it falsely advertised close ties with major U.S. companies that could lead to jobs for students, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.
The University of Phoenix will pay $50 million to the FTC to return to consumers and cancel $141 million in student debt.
Some of the advertisements targeted military and Hispanic students, the FTC said.
An ethics law that prohibits Department of Veterans Affairs employees from receiving money or owning a stake in for-profit colleges that rake in millions in G.I. Bill tuition has “illogical and unintended consequences,” according to VA, which is pushing to suspend the 50-year-old statute.
U.S. military commanders allowed representatives of the University of Phoenix to erect banners advertising the for-profit college on one of America’s largest military bases and permitted them to place promotional materials in high-traffic areas on the post.
Last year, the Department of Defense took a bold move against the University of Phoenix, placing the nation’s largest for-profit college on probation and putting tuition assistance for active-duty students at the school at risk. This gave the rest of the for-profit education industry notice that the DoD was not going to stand idly and let those institutions exploit veterans.
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.
Service members and veterans are attractive candidates for any college or university. There are many esteemed universities that court us for the diversity and dynamic perspective we bring to campus, but some other schools want us for other reasons. We often are suckered into attending schools that are more expensive, have lower graduation rates, and are perceived as worthless by many employers.