Durbin Statement On Department Of Education’s Move To Approve Borrower Defense Claims For Former University Of Phoenix Students

The approved claims amount to $1.56 million in relief for 50 Illinois student borrowers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement applauding the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement that the Department has approved more than 1,200 borrower defense claims filed by students who attended the University of Phoenix (Phoenix) between September 21, 2012, and December 31, 2014.  The relief totals nearly $37 million in repayments to students.  Of the more than 1,200 claims discharged, 50 belonged to Illinois student borrowers, amounting to $1.56 million in relief.

“Time and time again, the University of Phoenix has manipulated and lied to students, scamming them out of thousands of dollars in exchange for a phony college degree.  I’m relieved that 50 more Illinoisans will receive the relief they are entitled to.

“These borrower defense discharges are a $1.56 million victory for Illinois, but we cannot continue to allow predatory for-profit colleges to make off with millions in taxpayer dollars.  I want to reiterate to Department of Education leaders – we must cut off access of federal student aid to for-profit colleges that intentionally prey on and deceive students.

“Just remember: after the University of Phoenix lied to its students and convinced them to borrow thousands for a worthless degree, Phoenix took their money and left students with a mountain of debt.  The students are being rescued at the taxpayers’ expense.  We need to put an end to this fraud once and for all.”

After reviewing the information found in a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation in 2019, the Department concluded that Phoenix deceived prospective students by using disingenuous marketing and false advertisements.  Phoenix continuously claimed the for-profit college could grant access to exclusive job opportunities with corporate sponsors, while in reality, Phoenix misrepresented their relationship with corporate partners and employment options.

In May, Durbin led his colleagues in sending a letter to the Department of Education, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs warning the Administration’s leaders that Phoenix recently was running another deceptive campaign that leads students to believe it is a trusted public university instead of a for-profit college with a disreputable history.  Predatory for-profit colleges like Phoenix often aggressively market to students in hopes of accessing funding like the Title IV program, the GI Bill, and DOD’s Tuition Assistance program.