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 CallerComplaints.com. 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 ConsumerAffairs.com. 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 ConsumerComplaints.com 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 @ morguefile.com)