The U.S. military is kicking University of Phoenix recruiters off its bases and barring the school from enrolling new students using military tuition assistance, a corporate filing released by the university’s holding company reveals.
The sanctions, disclosed by Apollo Education Group, result from a variety of University of Phoenix practices, according to a letter from the Defense Department obtained by the Military Times. Those practices include the misuse of official military seals and the sending of recruiters onto military bases without notifying the proper officials.
“Although the University of Phoenix has responded to these infractions with appropriate corrective action at this time, the frequency and scope of these previous violations of the DoD MOU is disconcerting,” the letter says.
The sanctions may also stem from recent complaints the university is paying the military to receive preferential treatment, by being allowed to host recruiting events ranging from a fashion show to a chocolate-tasting festival.
The University of Phoenix has persistently denied doing anything unethical.
The new prohibition on military tuition assistance to the university only applies to those currently in the armed forces, and only affects new students, so it will not affect the 4,000 current beneficiaries. And the ban has no effect on the school’s access to G.I. Bill funds for discharged soldiers.
The university is the single most popular school for beneficiaries of the G.I. Bill, with more than 49,000 veterans attending the school’s various campuses in 2014, nearly a quarter of its total enrollment.
The sanctions come just a few months after the Federal Trade Commission announced an investigation into whether the university used deceptive recruiting tactics to attract military personnel. It’s a frequent punching bag for lawmakers and government investigators, who fear the university’s for-profit nature is encouraging it to engage in unethical or illegal practices. (RELATED: The Obama Administration Is Coming For The University Of Phoenix)
Dick Durbin, a Democratic senator who has been extremely critical of for-profit colleges, praised the Defense Department’s move. “This is a decisive action by the Department of Defense to protect service members and taxpayers from a company that offers degrees of questionable value,” he said in a statement.
The university has lost more than half its students in the past 5 years, and has had to close more than one hundred of its campuses across the country. Apollo’s stock price has tumbled almost 90 percent since 2009, and it dropped another 9 percent Friday upon news of the new sanctions.
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