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University of Phoenix banned from military recruiting, DOD investigating

By Amy R. Connolly
The Pentagon temporarily barred the for-profit University of Phoenix from recruiting on military bases and using veteran tuition assistance. Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock
The Pentagon temporarily barred the for-profit University of Phoenix from recruiting on military bases and using veteran tuition assistance. Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- The Pentagon has temporarily barred the for-profit University of Phoenix from recruiting on military bases and using veteran tuition assistance amid an ongoing investigation into possible policy violations.

The school, the nation's largest private university, is not allowed to enroll new military students under the Defense Department's education assistance program. The Department of Defense indicated the violations include misusing trademarked United States military insignia and failing to get the proper authorization when recruiting on military bases. A Pentagon spokesman cited "reports of non-compliance" by the school but would not provide more information.

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In July, the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting and PBS NewsHour aired a report that examined the school's recruiting practices. In a correspondence to the school earlier this week, the Pentagon gave the school 14 days to respond to the allegations.

The Federal Trade Commission and California's attorney general are also reviewing the school's recruiting practices. The Department of Justice and the Department of Education are reportedly coordinating ongoing investigations.

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The University of Phoenix has more than 200,000 enrolled students, both civilian and military, in 29 locations in 17 states. A majority of the students attend online classes.

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The school has also come under fire as one of the several for-profit universities that are driving up outstanding student loan debt and college costs. Nationwide, some 43 million people, most under age 40, owe an estimated $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. The average balance is about $30,000.

The Brookings Institute recently found about 45 percent of former University of Phoenix students with education loans have defaulted. In 2014, more than one million former students owed $35.5 billion. That's a marked increase from 2000, when the school's total student debt was $2.1 billion.

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