The University of Phoenix is the largest for-profit college in the United States, with nearly half-a-million students. Former students, however, say they were misled into paying huge sums and taking on debt by recruiters, earning degrees that didn’t improve the student’s job prospects.
A Noble, IL mother desired to become an elementary school teacher and, after seeing an online ad, emailed the university. Minutes later, a call came in from a Phoenix recruiter who told her that enrolling in the degree program would “fast track” her for success due to an agreement between the Illinois State board of Education and Phoenix.
Once the degree was completed, said the, the woman would be ready to begin working.
The recruiter helped the woman obtain federally-backed financing. After a few months in the program, the woman found the University’s claims to be “an outright lie.”
An undercover investigation into the school’s recruiting practices was launched to find out what would happen. ABC News sent a producer undercover to meet one of the Phoenix recruiters. Posing as a student who wanted to be a teacher and work in either New York or Texas, the recruiter told the undercover investigator to enroll for a Bachelors of Science. During the business investigation, the undercover student asked the recruiter to verify that once the degree was obtained, they’d be able to teach. The recruiter replied, “Yes, that is true.” The recruiter’s claim, however, was false; the degree did not certify teaching in any state.
This is not the first time Phoenix’s high-pressure tactics have been investigated. In December 2009 two former employees accused the university of violating federal financial aid regulations; the school settled out of court for $67.5 million.Further, Phoenix recruiters have been caught peddling enrollments for expensive education at homeless shelters. The college told ABC News it does not tolerate recruitment at such facilities and the guilty parties no longer work for the university.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably warrants background investigation.