Recently, someone filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Department of Education. How many Borrower Defense claims have students filed against the University of Phoenix (UP), the requester asked, and how were these claims resolved?
DOE's FOIA Service Center zipped back a reply, and the response is interesting. More than 69,000 UP students filed Borrower Defense claims against the for-profit school over the past seven years. Almost 20,000 of these claims were denied, and ZERO have been approved.
Borrower Defense claims are complaints filed by students with DOE claiming that their college misled them in some way about the education the college provided. For example, the college might give false information about:
[T]he transferability of credits, job placement rates, completion and withdrawal rates, graduates' future earning potential, career services, the cost of attendance, the amount of federal student aid, and accreditation status . . . .
If DOE concludes that a student's complaint is valid, it will cancel that student's federal college loans.
President Biden's DOE has been receptive to Borrower Defense claims and has canceled almost $14 billion in student debts owed by 890,000 people who attended for-profit colleges.
Several famous for-profit schools were named in that settlement, including DeVry University, Grand Canyon University, and Walden University. The University of Phoenix was omitted. Why?
Marty Nesbitt is the co-CEO of Vistria. He is a close personal friend of President Obama and served as treasurer for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Currently, he is the chair of the Obama Foundation, which is in charge of planning the Obama Presidential Center.
Marc Rowan, CEO of Apollo Global Management, significantly contributes to both Democratic and Republican politicians. According to a 2021 article, Apollo has made $16 million in political contributions since 1990 and spent $34 million on lobbyists since 1998 (citing OpenSecrets.org).
On the other hand, perhaps the University of Phoenix has never misled anyone or misrepresented anything over the past seven years. That would explain why 69,000 students or former students filed Borrower Defense claims against UP since 2016, and none have been declared valid by DOE.
|Marty Nesbitt, co-CEO of the Vistria Group