The University of Phoenix (UOPX) is a private for-profit college, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. The university has an open-enrollment admission policy, requiring a high-school diploma, GED, or its equivalent as its criteria for admissions. Founded in 1976, the university confers degrees in over 100 degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree levels.In 2017, it was acquired by Apollo Global Management, an American private equity firm. The college has drawn attention for a number of controversies concerning its marketing and recruitment practices, for being one of the top recipients of student aid, and for having a student body that shoulders the most student debt of any college.
The university was founded by John Sperling in 1976, where the first class consisted of eight students. In 1980, the school expanded to San Jose, California, and in 1989, the university launched its online program. In 1994, University of Phoenix leaders made the decision to take the parent company, Apollo Group, public. Phoenix had more than 100,000 students within the first five years of going public. Growth in the company made John Sperling a billionaire. According to Senator Tom Harkin, who chaired hearings on for-profit colleges, “I think what really turned this company is when they started going to Wall Street.” Between 2010 and 2016, enrollment declined more than 70 percent amid multiple investigations, lawsuits and controversies. In February 2016, the Apollo Group announced it would be sold to a private investment group, made up of Apollo Global Management, the Vistria Group, and the Najafi Companies, for $1 billion. Former U.S. Department of Education Deputy Secretary Anthony W. Miller, partner and chief operating officer of Vistria, would become chairman. The sale will have to be approved by both the U.S. Department of Education and the accreditation group the Higher Learning Commission in order to go forward. In December 2016, the US Department of Education approved of the sale of Apollo Education Group by Apollo Global. However, the company would be required to provide a letter of credit for up to $385 million. Continue reading