University of Phoenix (UOP) and its parent company, Apollo Education Group, reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after a five-year investigation into whether the university falsely advertised its relationships with big employers such as AT&T, Adobe, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Twitter, and The American Red Cross.
The FTC claimed the campaign relied on the advertising to attract military and Hispanic consumers which occurred under prior ownership and concluded before the FTC’s inquiry began.
Under the settlement unanimously approved by the FTC, UOP will pay $50 million in cash as well as cancel $141 million in debts owed to the school by students who were harmed by the deceptive ads. The settlement will not affect student borrowers’ federal or private loan obligations.
“This is the largest settlement the Commission has obtained in a case against a for-profit school,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Students making important decisions about their education need the facts, not fantasy job opportunities that do not exist.”
The university released a written statement that it was pleased to have reached the settlement and resolve the investigation, confirming that it had complied fully with the FTC.