Senator Dick Durbin Seeks University of Phoenix Investigation


US Senator Dick Durbin has asked the Pentagon to ban the University of Phoenix from military bases in view of an investigation of alleged federal law violations. According to a RevealNews investigation Durbin cited, the for-profit college has built a relationship with the military which enabled it to sidestep a 2012 executive order that seeks to prevent for-profit colleges from gaining preferential access to veterans and serving members.

The University of Phoenix is, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting, engaged in deceptive marketing practices to enroll veterans and service members.

“The University of Phoenix is a for-profit company that makes much of its money off of service members and veterans, including $1.2 billion in GI Bill benefits alone since 2009,” Durbin writes. “In return, the company offers degrees of questionable value, below average graduation rates and a student loan default rate almost forty percent higher than the national average.”

The Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that the University of Phoenix gained exclusive base access by giving money to the military, held recruitment events that were presented as resume workshops and used military trademarks without the necessary permission by the military. These practices brought in $1.2 billion in the last six years, not counting the $20 million in tuition assistance offered by the Pentagon in 2014, RevealNews reports.

The Illinois Democrat wrote in his letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter that he should “halt the company’s access to military personnel through the Hiring Our Heroes job fair program.”

Pentagon spokesman Lt Cmdr. Nathan Christensen said the department received Durbin’s letter and will respond directly to him.

Although the University of Phoenix hasn’t yet addressed the Reveal accusations, the Apollo Education Group, the school’s corporate parent, said the University of Phoenix has “unconditionally and unilaterally supported the President’s Executive Order.” AEG also said the military was paid to sponsor morale-boosting events that sought “to enhance the quality of life of those who support and defend our country,” RevealNews reports.

School officials state that the report is biased and flawed.  Retired Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks, head of the university’s College of Security and Criminal Justice, said about the university’s involvement in military installations:

“All of our efforts on military installations are only done because we have been invited by those commanders on those installations.”

A hidden camera investigation revealed that employment workshops at the Hiring Our Heroes job fairs were actually used to drive students to the school’s website for a military skills conversion tool.

On its behalf, the Pentagon said it had not received complaints about “recruiting by an educational institution at an employment workshop or job fair.”

Durbin urges the ban of the college until after the investigation is complete.