College Students Beware: University of Phoenix Consumer Complaints
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College Students Beware: University of Phoenix Consumer Complaints

For many, getting an online degree through the University of Phoenix seems like an attractive option. But before you fill out your enrollment form, there are a few things you should know about the University of Phoenix.

Online college the University of Phoenix is perhaps the best-known educational institution on the web.  This is due in large part to aggressive advertising campaigns across nearly every form of media.  For many who work full-time jobs, live far from a four-year institution, or stay at home with their children, getting an online degree through the University of Phoenix seems like an attractive option.  Before you fill out your enrollment form, there are a few things you should know about the University of Phoenix.

University of Phoenix Telephone Call Complaints

For many, headaches with the University of Phoenix begin long before classes start.  Anyone applying for information about the school is placed on a phone list.  The institution is notorious for aggressively pursuing phone leads.  Hundreds of complaints have been filed against the University of Phoenix at  A majority of these complaints state that the school calls 5 or more times a day; after requesting removal from the school's call list, dozens of people report receiving further calls, which is a violation of the US Do Not Call act.  This has resulted in many reports filed with the FTC, however the University of Phoenix continues to operate in blatant disregard of the law.

University of Phoenix Enrollment Complaints

Another common complaint against the University of Phoenix concerns enrolling in as well as dropping from online classes.  Many shocking and infuriating stories about experiences with enrollment at the school are posted at  In one case, a student seeking financial aid qualified for a loan he knew he could not afford.  He contacted the school to drop from his classes and was informed of two disturbing pieces of information.  First, the school had already dispersed the loan without his permission, making him liable for paying back funds he never expressly requested.  Second, he was informed that he would be charged substantial fees for dropping his classes.  Other students point out that the school's information about how to drop a class leads to sections of their website that do not exist.

University of Phoenix Degree Completion Complaints

Even for those who sail through the registration process without a hitch, other problems may loom on the horizon.  After successfully completing all coursework with a satisfactory GPA, students are required to write a final dissertation.  A proposal is submitted to members of the faculty, who must approve or reject the idea, then pass the proposal along to the University for final approval.  If a rejection is given, the proposal is returned with suggestions for improvements and may be resubmitted after the changes are made.

One student's experience shared at illustrated the potential for frustration.  She reports submitting her proposal 8 times over the course of 15 months.  Each time, the faculty approved her proposal, but it was ultimately rejected by the University and returned with suggestions.  Each time, she made the requested changes and resubmitted the proposal, only to be thrust back into the cycle again.  After five years of working toward a degree, the student withdrew from school and never received a diploma.  The US Department of Education estimates that only 4% of students initially enrolling in University of Phoenix online classes make it to graduation, a frighteningly low number when compared against the national average of 55%.

University of Phoenix and Lawsuits

Dishonest and misleading practices on the part of the University in Phoenix have landed them in legal trouble.  A 2003 lawsuit filed against the school illustrated that the school defrauded individuals and US taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid money through shady practices that were in violation of the Higher Education Act.  The school's parent company, Apollo Group, Inc., settled the lawsuit outside of court for $65.7 million, though neither Apollo Group, Inc. nor the University of Phoenix admitted any wrongdoing.

This lawsuit launched a further investigation in 2004 by the Department of Education.  As a result, the United States government fined the school a record-breaking $9.8 million for infractions of the Higher Education Act.  The school again admitted no wrongdoing, and was also not required to return any of the illegally-obtained financial aid funds.

The lawsuits don't end there.  In 2008, both stockholders and students sued the University of Phoenix in unrelated lawsuits.  The school also has a history of fines from both the Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission siting infractions such as disregard for overtime compensation laws and discriminatory hiring practices.

If you are seeking an online degree program, the University of Phoenix is a risky option at best.  Instead, look at degree programs offered by reputable colleges and universities in your state or region and inquire about the availability of online classes.  Most schools now offer online classes, many with complete four-year degree programs that rarely or never require you to set foot on campus.

(photo by jdurham @

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Comments (13)

Wow, they've done a great job with their marketing. I never would've suspected such a well-known school of being so shady. Great expose!

I've heard the same terrible stories since the advent of online college. The bottom line is that nothing equals a real education in an actual classroom. Graduates from these schools don't bring a great deal into the workplace, either. They come into a job and are often incapable of working in groups with other employees. Evidently, all that time hiding at home and staring at a screen wreaks havoc on ones social skills. just take one course, but for goodness sake, get out of the house and be with the three dimensional people.

I live in Canada, but have seen many advertisements for University of Phoenix, which do indeed entice the consumer. Good job on hunting down this obviously incriminating does not bode well for them. Excellent article.


"nothing equals a real education in an actual classroom"

I partially disagree with that. I received my degree from Arizona State University. I took as many online courses as I could. Probably one third of my classes were online. I feel like I learned as much in the online classes as I did in the actual "classroom" courses.

My big caveat would be Chemistry labs. I took Chem 101 lecture and lab online and found that the online lab was not up to par and ended up taking subsequent chem classes at the school.

But for many classes (especially math classes where I feel I learn better online) online classes taught me everything I would have learned in a classroom.

Good info people should know about before enrolling at the U of Phoenix online.

Bobbie Stevenson

Greetings Online faculty,


Due to technical issues, some students and faculty were unable to access their classes on Sunday evening, 9/19/10. Our Technical Support team is aware of these issues and working to ensure that these problems do not reoccur.

If you have students who were impacted, please allow the following accommodations:

1. Accept late assignments without penalty if they were due on Sunday, 9/19/10.

2. Give students credit for participation for Sunday, 9/19/10, if they report that they were unable to access the class.

3. If students have fallen out of attendance for the week based on this downtime, encourage them to contact their advisors. Excused absences can be made on a case-by-case basis to maintain a student's eligibility to receive a grade for the course.

4. If Sunday, 9/19/10, was the final day of your Axia College course, accept final assignments through Tuesday, 9/21/10, without assessing a lateness penalty. NOTE: this is an exception to the normal policy that states that assignments cannot be accepted after the final day of the course unless that is in conjunction with an Incomplete.

If you have questions about how to handle specific issues related to this downtime, you can send a note to your Faculty Assist team


I am currently a doctoral student at the University of Phoenix and I have experienced none of the negative things you write about. I also received two masters degrees from UoP and they have been accepted just as if I attend main stream courses. I have not experienced nothing but professional services. I am currently writing my doctoral proposal. I do not anticipate the issues that the young lady in the article wrote about.

I have no experience in how "real" the experience is in an online classroom at any level, whether it be for undergraduate or postgraduate courses, since I'm out of postgrad for over 20 years now. However, in my recent years of work experience, every single hiring manager I have worked with expressly avoids hiring graduates of online degrees, particularly in advanced studies. I cannot say with 100% certainty why this occurs, but I will just guess that they believe the online "experience" takes something away from the "lifelike" experience of actually being onsite. From my own personal experience of the olden days (the 1980s') I can say that if I weren't among other students, my learning experience at the graduate and postgraduate levels would today be nearly worthless to me. .imz


I am a University of Phoenix student. I was lied to when I was recruited and told that the University is Nationaly Acredited. It is not. The lies kept on until I found out the truth. I am in my 3rd block of overpriced classes. I have learned nothing and am very upset they are commiting fraud. I was told I could pick my classes and that credits were transferable. More lies. I filed a formal grievance against them and have heard nothing back so far. University of Phoenix are thieves and liars. If I did get my degree it would be worth nothing more than toilet paper. I am so upset I think I will sue University of Phoenix so I can get my student loans paid off and start fresh at a school who is honest.

buyer be ware

a sucker is born every second .

theys got a lot of chumps out there ready to be fleased

Stefanie Hamid

I am a grad student with UOP and I have never had any issues with this school. If anything I have bettered myself and now have an incredible job. If you don't apply yourself completely, nothing works. UOP has been nothing but great for me.

Victor Williams

I hate the UOP, though my mother says it is bad to hate. I cannot get my paper accepted by a school worker and had the paper and directions for the assignment looked at by a lawyer and tutor. UOP is now suspending me after the incident which happended 9 months ago and I then drove to Baltimore in the summer to see the academic director. Now I am getting suspended when I am about to recieve my Pell Grant not a coincidence. THEIVERY. Maurice Shihadi will not accept my paper what a joke. It is easy to see and prove the theft the lawyer told me. They got the money from the government and are keeping it. How funny!

I am a student their and have NEVER had any issues with the school, the only issues I\'ve had are those I would run into at any school!