Friday, September 15, 2023

Fraud Claims Against University of Phoenix Continue to Mount

The Higher Education Inquirer received a FOIA response today from the US Department of Education stating that 73,740 consumer fraud claims have been filed against the University of Phoenix. These claims have been made through the Department of Education's Borrower Defense to Repayment program.

The Sweet v Cardona lawsuit, concluded earlier in 2023, allowed for about 19,000 claims to be settled immediately--in favor of student debtors and against the University of Phoenix. Another 15,000 or so cases are supposed to be expedited as a result of the federal ruling.  

23-02373-F Final Response

We estimate that the potential liability of these immediate claims to be $200M-$600M with another $500M-$1.5B for the remaining cases. The higher estimates are based on the median federal loan debt among borrowers who completed their undergraduate degree ($32,421) and a study by Adam Looney and Constantine Yannelis that indicated University of Phoenix debtors, on average, paid off almost nothing of their principal. The authors also estimated that total student loan debt from more than a million University of Phoenix debtors was $35B. 

The Department of Education has not presented any estimates on the total debt by University of Phoenix students or its costs to the US government.  

Thousands of new cases continue to be filed. From January 2015 through January 1, 2022, there were 32,040 Borrower Defense claims made against the University of Phoenix. An additional 41,700 claims were filed between 2022 and August 2023. 

Idaho Sale

University of Phoenix's current owners are Apollo Global Management and Vistria Group, who have been trying to unload the online robocollege for years. The University of Idaho has been the most recent target, but the sale is far from being consummated.  The entire deal is expected to cost $685M. Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador has filed a lawsuit to stop or at least slow down the acquisition. And members of the Idaho Legislature continue to have questions.

In order to shield itself from liability the University of Idaho created a non-profit organization called 43 Education. But the state university may be responsible if the non-profit fails to make enough money to repay the bondholders of the new non-profit. 

The liability of these Borrower Defense claims to the current or future owners of the University of Phoenix seems possible in light of a recent statement by Department of Education Undersecretary James Kvaal. Kvaal said the University of Arizona Global Campus may be liable for the misdeeds of Ashford University (UAGC's former name). The University of Arizona purchased Ashford in 2020 for one dollar. 

Related articles:

Feds Cancel Loans for 2,300 Students Scammed by Ashford U. So Why Does the School Still Get Tax Dollars? (David Halperin)

University of Phoenix and the Ash Heap of Higher Ed History

Borrower Defense Claims Surpass 750,000. Consumers Empowered. Subprime Colleges and Programs Threatened.

The Growth of "RoboColleges" and "Robostudents"

More Transparency About the Student Debt Portfolio Is Needed: Student Debt By Institution


No comments:

Post a Comment