University of Phoenix students eligible to participate in the $ 50M Benchmark Fund

The University of Phoenix has been accused of engaging in misleading marketing practices to attract students.

Thousands of University of Phoenix students can now claim their share of a federal government established $ 50 million fund.

The University of Phoenix and its parent company Apollo Education Group agreed last year to pay the Federal Trade Commission more than $ 190 million, according to CBS News. Under the agreement, the nonprofit college pledged to provide $ 141 million to provide student loans, with the remaining $ 50 million going to the FTC.

Since the settlement was announced a year ago, the FTC has decided to invest the $ 50 million in a fund for students who fell victim to the University of Phoenix’s misleading marketing tactics.

“The refunds come from an FTC lawsuit against UOP that alleged it used misleading advertising that falsely advertised its relationships and employment opportunities with companies like AT&T, Yahoo! Microsoft, Twitter and the American Red Cross,” said the FTC issued a press release. “The FTC also alleged that UOP’s advertising created the false impression that the online school worked with these companies to create employment opportunities for their students and to adapt their curriculum for such jobs.”

Hammer rests on open book; Image by Verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

Students who have already received a tuition reimbursement through PayPal have one month to accept their part of the settlement, while students who receive checks in the mail should cash or deposit them within 90 days.

CBS News reports how the University of Phoenix ran aggressive marketing campaigns and broadcast radio and television commercials suggesting job placement partnerships with big-name companies such as Microsoft, Adobe and Yahoo.

According to CBS, these ads ran for almost two years between 2012 and 2014.

In one such advertisement, an actress related a scene in which a future Phoenix University was walking through a parking lot. In the scene, the cars rose from their rooms and were replaced by the logos of the big brands.

“At the University of Phoenix,” says the narrator, “we’re working with a growing list of nearly 2,000 corporate partners, including companies like Microsoft, the American Red Cross, and Adobe, to create options for you.”

In reality, the University of Phoenix did not have any specific corporate recruitment programs.

Ironically, many University of Phoenix graduates later reported that their degrees were adversely affecting their career opportunities, as employers tended to see Phoenix graduates in a bad light.

However, the University of Phoenix has defended its marketing practices, claiming that their advertisements were truthful, legal, and fair.

“The university has not admitted any wrongdoing and continues to believe that it acted appropriately,” said a spokesman for the University of Phoenix. “This settlement agreement has allowed us to continue to focus on our core mission of improving the lives of our students through professionally relevant higher education and avoiding the further distractions from student mentoring that could result from protracted litigation.”

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