University of Phoenix: Are Online Universities Legit or a Scam?

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University of Phoenix, a for-profit online university, is under fire by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) for misuse of GI Bill funding. The GI Bill (of Rights), also called Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, was passed by United State Legislature in 1944 to provide educational benefits to returning veterans. Through the Veteran’s Administration, the GI Bill gave grants for college tuition, job training, small-business loans, hiring privileges and unemployment payments. As a result, the GI Bill – created to give returning veterans a chance to live the American dream – is supporting for-profit universities that have spent an exceeding amount of funds on advertising and marketing, but have left our honorable veterans with worthless degrees and no job prospects.

Vice President of Military Affairs at University of Phoenix
Vice President of Military Affairs at University of Phoenix

One case is of David Pace, a 20 year United State Navy veteran, who used his GI Bill benefits to obtain a four year business degree from University of Phoenix. He has nothing to show for it. He holds the same blue collar job that he obtained when he first left the armed forces. He runs electrical cable for a defense contractor, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. Pace says, “That’s not an education. That is just greed.”  Hearing stories like this makes you ask if an education is not worth something?

The CIR has analyzed records indicating that two out of three GI Bill dollars are being spent on for-profit colleges with the state of California being the national epicenter. The University of Phoenix in San Diego, California has received $95 million in GI Bill funds. That is significantly more than any brick-and-mortar campus in the entire United States. That is also more than the entire 10-campus University of California (UC) system and all UC extension programs combined.


The U.S. Department of Education reports that the graduation rate for University of Phoenix-San Deigo campus is 15% and more than a quarter of the students default on their loans within a few short years of leaving school. The University of Phoenix refuses to say how many of their veterans graduate and/or find jobs.

The California Student Aid Commission is the agency that provides colleges with state financial aid. Their criteria is set at a graduation rate of lower than 30% or a loan default of more than 15.5% indications of a substandard education. However, there are no such restrictions for governing the GI Bill funding. This makes it easy for colleges like University of Phoenix to obtain funds without having to be held accountable for the quality of their education or how those funds are allocated.

Political Director Kate O’ Gorman who helped push the GI Bill through the U.S. Congress in 2008 is disappointed in how the funds have been grossly misused.

“Enormous amounts of GI Bill dollars are going to schools that don’t see veterans as the future of the country. Instead companies are seeing the benefit dollars they can line their pockets with.”

The University of Phoenix is also under fire from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the agency that holds the university’s accreditation. Apparently, University of Phoenix failed to indicate that its “learning resources support student learning and effective teaching.” The HLC found that the university failed to demonstrate “that acquisition of a breadth of knowledge and skills and the exercise of intellectual inquiry are integral to its educational programs.”

With stories like this, it can make one lose faith in the idea of pursuing an online education. With the digital age being an integral part of our society, it makes sense to look for educational opportunities through the internet. However, with online universities like University of Phoenix being under fire as they are, we have to stop and question the legitimacy of online universities. How can someone be sure of the education they are receiving online is going to pay off in the long run? How does online learning stack up when it is compared to traditional learning? Do online learners achieve as well as those in the traditional face-to-face classrooms?

According to statistics, there a total number of 6.7 million students enrolled in online courses. With that many students studying online there obviously is a demand for this type of learning. When polled, 77% of educators believe that online learning is just as good if not better than a traditional classroom setting and 70% of students said that online instruction was just as good if not better than the traditional setting.

Clearly, there is a market for online learning, but what is the reality of an education really?  What if I were able to tell you about an online educational opportunity that would not cost a thing to start and you would be guaranteed to learn more in a shorter amount of time than any other online or traditional university could provide you? Yes, it is FREE to start your online education and if you decided to upgrade your educational access, you would pay less for a yearly membership than what most online universities charge for one course. Check out my review of Wealthy Affiliate University: an Open Education Project to see what I am talking about. You would get thousands of hours of online learning helping you to build a career which would give you the financial freedom to have the life you deserve. Act now to Get Started.



I hope you learned something new from reading my article.  Please feel free to leave comments below and I will reply shortly.  Thank you for your time.  Look forward to seeing you at Wealthy Affiliate.

Steph Hill

Greetings! It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Stephanie and the aim of this website is to help newcomers to the field of internet marketing by providing free easy-to-follow tutorials, product reviews and resources. I hope you find the information useful and down-to-earth. My background is in librarianship, technical writing, special education, software training and web design. Please leave a comment with your questions and I will be happy to answer them.

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22 thoughts on “University of Phoenix: Are Online Universities Legit or a Scam?

  1. Stephanie,

    We need to get your post to as many social media platforms as we can. I have heard advertisements for thus University all the time. I actually get them in my inbox. We have to stop and question the legitimacy of online universities. It must be so discouraging for many people to realize they are investing their time and money into something that might never give them any in return.

    1. Hi Juan:

      Thank you for visiting my article today on University of Phoenix. I believe that most online universities are legitimate. The real issue is the price tag for a college education worth it? With the invention of the WWW back in the 1990s, the growth of the online world has taken on new horizons and opened the doors for many people to have access to information and knowledge sharing that otherwise would not be possible. With the explosion of the Internet, the question comes up do you really need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an online university when you there are ways you can get an online education without the heavy financial hit of college tuition.

      My #1 recommendation for getting an online education only costs $359 per year and you are provided with a new career and online revenue that you might have not thought possible before. You have access to training, a massive community of individuals to help you and around the clock support. The nice thing is you can try it for free without a credit card to see if it is something that you would be interested in.


  2. Stephanie,

    This is a very informative post which help me be more aware about online Universities. Let me share my personal experience. I currently attend UMUC, which I will say is a well known online University. I am part of the community of Wealthy Affiliate as well and I have to say that if I compare both experiences, I learned more at Wealthy Affiliate in 3 months than I did at UMUC in 2 years. Sure, I am getting through classes just fine… my GPA is 3.5, but I feel I have not learned a thing… maybe is different for other people… but I wanted to share my own experience…

    Thank you for a very informative post!.

    1. Hi Juan:

      Thank you sharing your experience with your online education at UMUC verse what you have learned through Wealthy Affiliate. I too have attended universities and been taught online and I have also been the teacher too in an online course. And like you, I am also a member and an Ambassador at Wealthy Affiliate and I have learned more these past several months then I did when in college. Like you said, it can be different for different people. I think many colleges are moving to online learning platforms due to the benefit of convenience, but then you have to ask what is the quality of the online education you are getting at the higher education institution verse what you can get for a huge fraction of the price through a place like Wealthy Affiliate?

      Have a great day and thank you for visiting today.


  3. Interesting- They should be held more accountable. The desired outcome for the stated purpose is so low. What is the reason that they say they have such a program?- Oh. corruption in essence-To line their pockets eh. so sad.

  4. Such great detail on University of Phoenix legit or scam. This would be highly helpful for all trying to get education and not fall into scams!

    1. Hi Demi:

      One thing I wish to reiterate is that you can achieve an education online without having to pour an obscene amount of money into it. There are plenty of options online and free computer tutorials such as the ones I have listed on my website here to include my FREE QUick & Easy HTML Tutorial which will help people get started with learning the basics of web design. University of Phoenix is not so much a scam as it is a highly overpriced educational option. You can get an education without going into debt. Check out my review of Wealthy Affiliate Open Education Project to learn how you can learn computer skills and build a business without breaking the piggy bank.


  5. What a great article. I always wondered about the university of phoenix and if it was legitimate or not. I am a student at Wealthy affiliates and can certainly speak for the unbelievable amount of training and courses available online. I have been with them for a little over 4 months and cannot tell you how much I have learned. I now feel confident and competent in today’s world and that I have an edge over so many others in the field. I don’t think I would have gotten so much information in 1 class let alone a semester’s worth of class at any other university.

    1. Hi Debra:

      I think you are absolutely correct. You probably could not have learned as much about affiliate marketing and search engine optimization and how to build a website in a traditional college as you probably have learned in the four months you have been at Wealthy Affiliate. University of Phoenix is a legit university, but the fees and tuition are so much higher than what really should be charged for what you are getting.

      Thank you for visiting. Have a wonderful day!


  6. Hey there, You have done a great job. Thank you for your information and this article on University of Phoenix. I enjoyed reading it. I am looking for a way to learn how to become educated while from the comfort of my home. I remembered when University of Phoenix was trying to recruit me and they ere constantly calling me too. It makes you wonder how greedy that must have been when they are practicing in overhype methods of getting new students. I’ll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this web site.

    1. Ho Soila:

      Good to meet you. I know was contacted by an extremely pushy recruiter who kept calling me as well. After being laid off from a job during the time of the recession, I was interested in learning and furthering my education. So I filled out an online form about University of Phoenix, and they started calling me too. I felt like they were used car salesmen instead of college recruiters. And there was more than one who kept calling. Thank you again for sharing your story and experience.


  7. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your article seem to be running off the screen in Ie.

    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The design and style look great though! Hope you get the issue resolved soon. Kudos

    1. Hi Stephany:

      Okay. Thank you for letting me. I primarily use Firefox and Google Chrome. I do not use Internet Explorer, so I will definitely have to check into. It is definitely a browser issue. I will try and resolve the issue. Thank you for the heads up. Have a great day!


  8. Hey Stephanie, Nice site here. I like how much you sre developing your side bar, nice. Keep building and adding content. I enjoy reading your articles. The University of Phoenix article was definitely an eye opener in how some online universities are trying to take advantage of the GI Bill.

    1. Hi Elliedan:

      Thank you for reading my article. I can glad you enjoyed it. I am not sure that all online universities are taking advantage of the GI Bill, but it seems that University of Phoenix definitely is.


  9. Great and important article. I have always been sceptical to paying a huge amount of money for education. I have always found my own ways and learned everything I need to know myself. I have worked for 15 years in my profession now.
    WA sounds like a good idea to learn something very valuable for very little money – Free if you want.


    1. Hi Andreas:

      I too am very skeptical of paying a huge amount of money for an education when there are other ways to achieve an education for free. I was able to get a free education through working in the higher education field and thus, access a tuition waiver through my affiliation with the university I was employed at. That was how I always funded my higher education goals, because I did not want to be in debt for the rest of my life. I was fortunate that I had that opportunity, but not everyone has that opportunity. Therefore, Wealthy Affiliate is probably one of the few places you can go where the education is FREE to begin with and there is no pressure ever to go premium – you only upgrade when and if you are ready.


  10. Hi Stephanie

    I think that online learning is a revolution within the internet revolution.

    I think It will grow bigger and bigger and this race won’t be won by those who seek shortcuts or by those who just offer shells of content.

    I think in the long run, only those who provide the best content will be on top.

    The numbers you mention are astonishing. I didn’t know them. I am really surprised. It gives you an idea of the magnitude of this revolution.

    You mentioned Wealthy Affiliate Open Education Project and I have been a member for some weeks and I really love it. I found it to be a great example of what I am talking about.

    Quality of content, that is the secret!

    Thanks for starting this debate regarding the quality of an online education and where is the best place to pursue it!

    Best regards!


    1. Hi Fito:

      I am glad you found my article of high interest. One of the questions that can come out of this article is, “Are degree-granting institutions really worth the serious $$$ and all the student debt that goes along with it?” All too often these universities and colleges try and make you believe you can need a degree in order to succeed, that the only way to get an education is through attendance at a four-year college. However, I can tell you that getting a degree is not the only means to obtaining an education. With online learning becoming more popular due the rise of the digital age, we are seeing many more opportunities online for seeking an education without leaving you in debt for the rest of your life. One of the biggest hurdles though is finding that one legitimate online opportunity, because if you spent any time online, you will see the magnitude of scams that are out there. I have been victim of many of those scams that claim to teach you the skills to run a successful online business. Many of them come in the form of MLM or pyramid or ponzi schemes.

      That is why I have respect and appreciation for Wealthy Affiliate. You can obtain an excellent education in online entrepreneurship without leaving you in debt for the remainder of your life. Do you know that since 1980, higher education costs have increased to 600% but the overall household income has only marginally increased. Was that mean for people who want to improve their lives through obtaining an education? Why should your education be so costly? Why should we be punished financially for wanting to provide a better life for ourselves and our families? For the cost of a premium membership at Wealthy Affiliate, you can could pay for ONE college-level course. I strong encourage everyone to check out Wealthy Affiliate, because with it being FREE to start, you really have nothing to lose and you do not have to upgrade to premium until when and if you are ready. So check it and discover for yourself.


  11. Thanks for your review…It was eye-opening to me in several different ways…While in the service I was enrolled in various college and university programs from 1980 through 1989.

    At the time, there was a push to get the young leaders educated, and some classes ( a few) were fully paid, some were 90% (tuition assistance) and some you could use your VA benefits for…

    In those 9 years, I completed an AA (City College of Chicago), BS (University of Maryland), MEd, and a second MEd (both from Boston University)…Of course this was very hard, due to deployments, having a family and other life events going on simultaneously.

    After retiring, I still had almost 4 years of benefits remaining, and 10 years to use them. So for about 5 years I was busy building a business…No time or desire for any more school!

    At some point I realized I would have to think about using those benefits or lose them (I was hoping they would change the law so I could save money switching them over to my daughters for their education – no luck and $240k USD later, it didn’t matter lol)…

    So…I decided to check out what was available to me while operating a business that had ops in 6 countries, with staff in each location, and lots of work…The University of Phoenix came on my screen somehow, and I checked it out…

    After doing some due diligence I enrolled in their Doctoral Program (Management), and of course started using my GI Benefits. I went through almost 3 1/2 years of the program…It was VERY rigorous…Literally I spent 4-5 hours a day, to include weekends, on a regular basis…

    Sadly, the economic crisis hit, and I was forced to either continue to study, jeopardizing my business, which was hit like almost everyone else, or study….I chose to try and save the business, so I took a sabbatical…

    I never went back to complete the remaining requirements/classes (I had only a few credits left plus my dissertation to complete). BUT, I have used the knowledge gained daily in my business, have referred to the books, the notes, and etc. often over the years.

    Our instructors during that period were either in house or adjunct ,from other highly touted institutions such as Harvard, MIT, etc. Although expensive, my GI Bill covered most of the cost…Had I finished the whole thing would have cost about 22k USD out of pocket for me (compare that to today’s cost!)…

    So my experience all those years ago was a very positive one, and well worth the money (OK the 25 years of military service!) invested…I can’t say anything negative at all, they delivered what they said they would!

    I wonder what happened since that period to bring down the efficacy of the program? They had high standards, the classes were intense and a lot of cutting edge material was used, and their teaching methods were also cutting edge….

    The second thing I have some questions about is, since when are you guaranteed a job because you complete a degree? I was not guaranteed anything, it was what I did with that knowledge, with the education I was fortunate enough to be afforded, and how I used it in my career that proved its worth…

    The third thing I do not understand is the loan side of this…University of Phoenix did not get involved in this end of their program while I attended..Obviously there were some terrible decisions made by whoever was running the program!

    Sad to see the university system going the way of the corporate world…

    Now to the second portion of your post….I can also attest to the program you speak of – Wealthy Affiliate is every bit as good as the bricks and mortar institutions I attended so many years ago….

    It reminds me of some “open university” courses I tool with University of Maryland in a lot of ways….It was up to you to go through the course material, and put it all together…

    One HUGE difference: There is a STRONG and ACTIVE community of members that all support one another on all levels…That was NOT the case with the open university program!

    Thanks for the article and information, good stuff and I hope many people are guided to a proper place to get their online marketing business, which is no doubt Wealthy Affiliate!



    : )

    1. Hi Dave:

      Thank you for reading my article on the investigation of the misuse by University of Phoenix with the GI Bill. I certainly appreciate you taking the time to write me a long detailed thorough reply including your military experiences and educational background.

      I first wish to thank you for your honorable service and bravery to our country. Although I was never in the military myself, I have had family members and close friends who served and are now veterans. I understand the sacrifices made by those individuals. I also wish to congratulate on your decision to return to school following your servitude to our country all the while maintaining a business and raising a family. It takes much effort to sustain that level of ambition. Many soldiers who return from service do not take advantage of their BI Bill entitlement for various reasons. So, much sincere admiration to you for following through with your benefits.

      Just like you, I also have a bachelor’s degree. I studied technical communication. Later on, after getting married and having children, I obtained a certification in web design. With my web design educational credentials I was able to obtain employment with a large state-funded university and through my affiliation with the university, I achieved my masters degree in library science. Later, I went to work for another large public university in another state as an Adjunct Professor and began pursuing my doctorate degree in higher education administration. Since I worked at the university, I was given a free ride once again just as with my Masters. Similar to your situation, I had urgent family matters that came up requiring my immediate full attention. My father became very ill and passed away suddenly. Being an only child, I had to re-locate to take care of matters associated with his loss, so I too did not complete my doctoral degree or dissertation. That was only a short seven months ago today.

      Which brings to me Wealthy Affiliate. After relocating to where I am now, I needed a way to stay at home to take for my mother and help her with financial and business matters. I had tried to look for a position outside the home but I had no luck, only interviews, but no offers. I knew I had the skill set necessary to start working online because I knew with my background in web design, this was a possible venue for me. So, I begin researching, studying and comparing different programs. Came across many scams before I found Wealthy Affiliate, one of the very few legitimate online opportunities that are out there. So I signed up and have been working hard ever since and about six weeks ago, I became an Ambassador of Wealthy Affiliate. I am not only building my online business, but I am assisting others achieve the same goal through as you said the, “STRONG and ACTIVE community members that all support one another on all levels.” I could not agree with you more.

      I believe in the need to always find ways of increasing your education. If you are not learning, how do you plan on progressing? The reality is that too many people (as I was one of them) tie getting a degree with getting an education and that could not further from the truth. You can read more about this from Kyle, one of the owners of Wealthy Affiliate who is also a big advocate of education, but he believes firmly you can get an education without the HUGE $$$ price tag associated with degree-granting institutions.

      Thank you again for your time and interest in my article concerning University of Phoenix. Please come back soon.


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