- Six Democratic senators are calling on government agencies to scrutinize the University of Phoenix’s participation in their federal student aid programs.
- The group, led by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, accused the for-profit of preying on veterans, low-income students, and students of color in a Wednesday letter sent to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and the heads of the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs
- The three agencies should review allowing the University of Phoenix to receive funds from programs like Title IV, the GI Bill and the Defense Department’s Tuition Assistance program, the letter said.
For-profit critics often hold up University of Phoenix as the epitome of the sector’s perceived problems. It has been accused of aggressively targeting vulnerable students, especially those in the military, through deceptive marketing tactics.
In 2019, the for-profit settled with the Federal Trade Commission for $191 million over allegations that it misrepresented its relationships with big-name tech employers like Twitter and Microsoft, leading students to believe they’d have job opportunities with these companies.
In Wednesday’s letter, lawmakers say the University of Phoenix violated the terms of this settlement by running ads that insinuate it is a public institution.
“These advertisements, including messages on its admissions website, tout statements such as ‘No out of state tuition’ and ‘Some state universities charge higher tuition to out-of-state students – but not University of Phoenix,'” the letter said.
Durbin and his colleagues also criticized the institution’s low graduation rate, which they said leaves a majority of students with significant debt and no degree.