May 3, 2023

Durbin, Warren Say U. of Phoenix Violates Deal With FTC Not to Deceive Students

Durbin, Warren Say U. of Phoenix Violates Deal With FTC Not to Deceive Students

Six U.S. senators, including Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), wrote today to the secretaries of education, defense, and veterans affairs urging them to examine the largest for-profit college, the University of Phoenix, and its participation in federal student aid programs. The senators cited a report on this website describing a University of Phoenix advertising campaign that promised the school did not charge “out of state tuition.”

As we argued in our report, that is a deceptive claim, because it falsely implies that Phoenix is a state school, rather than a for-profit, and that its charges are comparable to average in-state tuition levels for state schools.

The senators further note, as we did in our report, that the University of Phoenix in 2019 reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over a previous deceptive advertising campaign, and in that agreement Phoenix agreed not only to pay $191 million but also to avoid running deceptive ads going forward.

“Phoenix’s most recent advertising campaign,” the senators write, “clearly defies this injunction.” The letter cc’s FTC chair Lina Khan.

“Phoenix,” the senators add, “is an unscrupulous and predatory for-profit college that has long preyed on veterans, low-income students, and students of color.”

Other signers of the letter are senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

The University of Phoenix, which is owned by private equity giant Apollo Global Management, suffered a major setback last week when the board of trustees of the University of Arkansas System rejected a resolution in favor of acquiring the for-profit school, which currently has about 80,000 students, all taking classes online.