How to Qualify for a University of Phoenix Student Loan Discharge or Refund

UPDATED Tuesday March 25th, 2020

I’ve got great news for UOP students; it’s now not just possible, but relatively likely and essentially even pretty easy to qualify for University of Phoenix loan forgiveness benefits via the Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program.

Why? Because the University of Phoenix has been accused of committing all sorts of fraudulent marketing and business activities, including violating both State and Federal laws, by essentially running a huge scam operation to extract money from not just individual Americans, but also the Federal Government and even the Defense Department (via student loans given to military personnel).

This post will explain how you can use the Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program to cash in on University of Phoenix student loan forgiveness benefits, wiping out your UOP student loan debt for good, and potentially even getting a refund for any money you’ve already paid UOP or their parent company, the Apollo Education Group.

Claim Your Share of $141 MILLION in Forgiveness Benefits

NEWS ALERT: On December 11th, 2019 an absolutely massive settlement between University of Phoenix and the Federal Trade Commission was finally settled, under which UOP agreed to provide $141 million in student loan forgiveness benefits to former students still on the hook with outstanding Federal student debt.

This lawsuit stems from the same accusations I’ve been tracking here for years, that UOP committed unfair and deceptive marketing practices, giving the impression that the school worked with large national companies to create great job opportunities for students, and tailoring it’s courses and lessons specifically to help students land those jobs.

In reality, the FTC found that many UOP students graduated with poor job prospects, very little actual support from UOP, and tons of student loans that they were on the hook for, but which they were having trouble paying off.

Allegedly, UOP also apparently purposefully targeted their marketing campaigns at people of color and military veterans, making this whole thing even more scandalous.

How To Apply for UOP Student Loan Forgiveness

Under the settlement terms, UOP agreed to pay $191 million in penalties, with $141 million being used to forgive student loans for borrowers that enrolled in the school between October 1st, 2012 and December 31st, 2016.

ONLY loans directly owed to the University of Phoenix are eligible for this particular round of forgiveness, but ALL Federal student loans are eligible for discharges under the Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Program.

Bottom line: if you’ve got federal debt tied to UOP, then you need to look at my Guide on Getting a BDAR Discharge, or finish reading this post, where I’ll go through the entire process in detail, because there’s a great chance that you can get it eliminated simply by filing under the rules of that program.

But Before I Explain How Borrower’s Defense Works…

Let me give you a quick word of advice – the Department of Education is backed up with BDAR applications, and their average response time is literally multiple years now, so sitting around and waiting for them to give you a yes or no may not be your best approach to dealing with your student debt.

If you're truly struggling with student debt, then you should also consider paying a Student Loan Debt Relief Agency for help. Why? Because the people working at these companies deal with student loans all day, every day, and they're your best chance at figuring out how to get your loans back under control.

I've interviewed all sorts of debt relief agencies over the past 10 years, talking to all sorts of so-called "experts", and I can tell you that in all honesty I've only found two companies I trust to offer actual financial relief to people struggling with student loans.

For help with FEDERAL Student Loans: Call the Student Loan Relief Helpline at 1-888-906-3065. They will review your case, evaluate your options for switching repayment plans, consolidating your loans, or pursuing forgiveness benefits, then set you up to get rid of the debt as quickly as possible.

For help with PRIVATE Student Loans: Call McCarthy Law PLC at 1-877-317-0455. They will negotiate with your lender to settle your private loans for much less than you owe, then get you a new loan for the much lower, settled amount. NOTE: McCarthy Law can ONLY help with Private student loans.

If you do decide to call one of these companies and you have a bad experience with either of them, PLEASE make sure to come back and let me know about it in the Comments!

How Can I Use Borrower’s Defense to Discharge UOP Loans?

Under the Borrower’s Defense law, you’re able to discharge student loans that were taken out to attend a school who committed fraud by doing something, or failing to do something, like misrepresenting their services, or violating some other state law related to your loans or related to the education services that they provided you.

In the case of University of Phoenix, it’s pretty clear what you need to do, which is to file a Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Application stating that UOP defrauded you by convincing you to take out student loans to pay for their higher education programs because they falsely advertised inflated graduation rates and job placement stats.

Essentially, you’ll be accusing the school of false advertising, in that you’re saying you wouldn’t have attended the school (and thus never would have borrowed the student loans), had you known that University of Phoenix’s graduation rates and job placement rates were actually much lower than those that they advertised.

The really good news is that if your application is approved, your entire University of Phoenix loan will be forgiven, and you may even qualify for a refund for any amount of money that you have already paid to the school or their parent company, the Apollo Education Group.

How to Support Your Borrower’s Defense Claim

When you file your Borrower’s Defense claim, you need to make it very clear that you’re suggesting the Department of Education provide forgiveness benefits for your University of Phoenix loans because they were only taken out in the first place thanks to the school’s illegal activity.

In other words, you need to clearly state that you never would have borrowed the money if the school hadn’t lied to you about something, or tricked you in some way, or made some sort of false promise that they didn’t, or couldn’t deliver on.

Pay close attention to this point, because it’s the most important of this entire post: in your application, you will need to clearly explain exactly what the school did to defraud you, otherwise you’ll be denied the discharge and will have to continue making payments toward your outstanding loan balance.

Read through the options below to see which one of these things University of Phoenix is accused of doing fits best with your specific situation, and then use that as your argument for why you deserve a discharge in your application.

What Did University of Phoenix Do Wrong?

UOP is accused of some pretty terrible stuff, and the details of their problems emerged after a Whistleblower lawsuit from UOP’s parent company, Apollo Education Group, became public knowledge when Apollo revealed details of the lawsuit in an SEC filing (which tanked their stock, btw).

In the lawsuit, we found out that the University of Phoenix has been accused of submitting false information about it’s student aid statistics to the Federal Government, which allowed the school to qualify for additional federal funding that it never should have been able to receive.

When you fill out your application, my suggestion is to focus entirely on the false advertising behavior related to inflating graduation and job finding rates, because those seem like the things most likely to convince someone to take out loans for attending UOP.

The other details I outline below are just here to make sure everyone is aware of all the shady activity the school is accused of committing, and to help provide you with background information regarding why it’s even possible to get your loans discharged in the first place.

False Advertising: Inflating Graduation & Job Placement Rates

What really matters to you and to your Borrower’s Defense Application is that the University of Phoenix has been accused of inflating their advertised graduation rates and job placement statistics, which is a form of false advertising, and could definitely be used as a reason for why your loan should be forgiven.

How would that work? Because if you were considering attending University of Phoenix, but wanted to make sure that you were making a good investment of your time and money, then you probably would have double-checked the school’s graduation rates and employment rates to see if they were actually good, right?

After all, would you have attended a school with a bad graduation rate, or a bad job placement rate? Would you have borrowed tens of thousands of dollars to go to a college where less than 1 in 5 students actually graduate?

Pay Close Attention to This Point!

That’s one of the best arguments you could make in your Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Application, because there’s all sorts of proof that UOP was doing this (inflating their graduation and employment rates), so it’s something that the Department of Education cannot deny.

If you only took out loans to attend University of Phoenix because you thought their advertised graduation and employment rates were accurate, then you deserve to have your loans discharged. Simple, right?

Keep in mind that in your Borrower’s Defense application, you’re going to need to make this argument extremely clearly.

After all, Borrower’s Defense claims are a legal process, so you’re going to have to prove that you would not have taken out your loans had you known UOP’s actual graduation and job placement rates, and that you would never have considered borrowing the money to attend their school if you’d known they were lying about those rates.

Where Do I File My Borrower’s Defense Application?

That’s easy, because there’s only one official place to file your Borrower’s Defense Application, and that’ sat the actual US Government website, here:

DO NOT file a Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Application ANYWHERE ELSE, because anyone else collecting your information via an online form, or even over the phone, may be attempting to trick you in a common Student Loan Forgiveness Scam.

The Federal Government has been cracking down on Forgiveness Scams recently, but there are still thousands of people out there attempting to milk money from desperate student loan borrowers, so you need to be extremely careful about getting anyone’s help with your loans, or with the Borrower’s Defense application.

When Will I Find Out If My Application Is Approved?

There’s no telling how long it’ll actually take to find out if your Borrower’s Defense application is approved, but I’ve been receiving comments from readers claiming it’s been over a year since they submitted, and they’re still waiting to hear back.

There have also been many news articles in recent months about the Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Program, especially as the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has attempted to shut the entire program down.

For now, let’s just all be aware that this is a controversial program, and one that could disappear at any time. No one knows what President Trump’s plan for student loans actually looks like, and until the details of it are revealed, we need to be prepared to lose the Borrower’s Defense process at any moment.

That’s why you need to take this opportunity seriously, and get your application submitted ASAP! Even if President Trump does decide to shut it down, if your application was submitted before it goes dark, there’s a good chance you’ll be grandfathered into the program and still eligible for the discharge.

Can I Check the Status of My Application?

I get this question on a daily basis, and the answer is, unfortunately, no.

There’s no website, no phone number, no email address to contact to request an update on the status of your application.

In fact, after you submit your application, you’re likely to hear nothing back at all, for months on end, or even over a year.

What you’ll need to do is sit-tight, keep your fingers crossed, and hope that you filled everything out correctly in your paperwork, because any mistake is likely to get your application denied.

Can I Stop Paying My Loans After Submitting My Application?

No! Absolutely not!

You need to keep paying your loans until you receive official notification from the Department of Education that says your loans have been forgiven and that you do not need to continue paying them off.

If you stop paying your loans before they’ve been discharged, you may screw up your eligibility for the Borrower’s Defense process, and end up never getting to discharge your debt.

Make sure you keep making payments in full, and on-time, until you’ve been officially informed that the loans no longer need to be paid.

Will I Owe Taxes On My Forgiven Debt?

Yes, and it’s unfortunate, because it’s the one huge downside to the Borrower’s Defense process.

If you qualify for a Borrower’s Defense discharge and get your University of Phoenix loans forgiven, then you’re going to count whatever amount is forgiven as income on your next IRS filing.

That means you’ll have to pay income taxes on however much debt is discharged, which could mean you’re going to end up owing a lot of money to the IRS.

For details on how this process works, please visit my page on Student Loan Forgiveness and Taxable Income.

How Bad Will Those Taxes Be?

The important thing to keep in mind is that anything you owe the IRS will end up being due all at once, instead of stretched out over a period of 10, 15 or even 20 years (like student loans).

And that means that your affordable student loan payments could turn into a totally unaffordable IRS bill, perhaps even as high as tens of thousands of dollars.

In fact, I’m so concerned that the taxable income liabilities are going to devastate ordinary Americans that I’ve created a new website to offer assistance dealing with IRS tax debt, called Forget Tax Debt.

If you’ve got any tax troubles, please visit my new site, where I cover complicated tax-related topics like Negotiating an IRS Settlement, applying for the IRS Fresh Start Program, qualifying for IRS Tax Debt Forgiveness and even avoiding IRS Phone Scams.

Background Information on University of Phoenix

Everyone’s heard of the University of Phoenix, but few people realize just how large this school actually is – with 91 campuses and over 440,000 enrolled students, UOP is the second largest college in the entire country, but it’s graduation rate is atrocious, sitting at around 17.5%.

Over the past decade, millions of Americans have fallen pretty to UOP’s excellent advertising campaigns and signed up for their higher education courses, burying themselves in massive student loan debt, but that’s all about to change now thanks to a massive lawsuit against UOP’s parent company, the Apollo Education Group.

The lawsuit comes from a Whistleblower former employee at UOP, and accuses the company of doing all sorts of heinous things, including plenty of illegal activity, as well as totally immoral stuff like lying to potential students and forcing employees to sign up for education courses they didn’t want.

Below I’ll detail some of the worst allegations made against the school, which I want to share with you to help you understand why this school is such a problem, and why anyone who’s attended it deserves to qualify for a Defense to Repayment Discharge.

What did University of Phoenix Do Wrong?

First, they violated the Federal False Claims Act by lying about being in compliance with the U.S. Higher Education Act’s 90/10 Rule, which requires a for-profit school to receive no more than 90% of it’s funding from the Federal Government.

The way the University of Phoenix got around this rule is that they did all sorts of illegal activity, like forcefully encouraging their own employees to sign up for UOP classes, which were provided for free, and which allowed them to inflate their graduation rates and job placement rates.

University of Phoenix violated the 90/10 rule by urging employees to tell the Federal Government that they were paying full tuition rates, which allowed them to receive tens of thousands of dollars in Federal financial aid, even though the employees weren’t actually using the money for classes.

In fact, UOP even told their employees who took out this aid that it was one of the benefits to being an employee of the company, and that they should think of the funds as a “bonus”.

Apparently, School Executives and even the Director of Enrollment went so far as boast about UOP employees being able to take their families on vacations using those funds that were supposed to be given to needy students!

Enrollment Counselor Scams & Fraud

UOP is also alleged to have trained enrollment counselors and potential students to falsify loan applications, doing things like lying about having a GED or high school diploma, and that one manager claimed he in “no position to turn away students”, which is totally illegal.

One of the worst allegations made against the school is that the Whistleblower claims to have told school authorities that he or she was considering informing the Government about the school’s illegal actions, and that immediately afterwards all University of Phoenix employees were told to power down their computers for “routine maintenance”.

When the employees turned their computers back on, evidence of all sorts of violations had apparently been removed from their hard drives, and new disclaimers had been added to document templates (including previously completed applications for student loans!).

All of this is obviously highly illegal, not to mention totally immoral, which is part of the reason why I think anyone who’s attended the school should pursue a Borrower’s Defense Discharge.

It’s estimated that all of UOP’s illegal behavior cost the U.S. Government (meaning taxpayers like me and you) billions of dollars a year, so don’t feel bad for UOP or the Apollo Education Group, because these two are bad actors who deserve to be punished, that is, if they’re found guilty of actually committing all these crimes.

If you really want to pore through details about just how bad University of Phoenix and the Apollo Education Group are, then visit their page on the website, here.

Need Help With Federal Student Loans?

Even if you can’t take advantage of the Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Program, or the UOP forgiveness benefits that have been approved to date, the good news is that there are all sorts of existing benefits programs available to people with Federal student debt.

And you can find out all about them right here at, because I’ve spent the past decade writing hundreds of articles on these programs, so you’re bound to find something that can help you simply by looking at my other pages.

For Help with Federal Student Loans, check out my Guides on:

Need Help With Private Student Loans?

And if you’ve got private student loans, while the bad news is that there’s way less assistance available than for borrowers with Federal debt, there are SOME programs on offer that MAY help.

To find out what benefits packages you might be able to utilize, take a look at my articles on getting Help with Private Student Loans, including:

If you have any other questions about student loans, please post them in the Comments section below and I’ll do my best to get you a response within 24 hours!

Finally, Please Help Me Out!

Running this website is like working a second full-time job, and I can only continue to do that with your help!

If you found this information to be useful, then please consider linking to me from your Blog, or sharing this page with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere.

As you can imagine, it takes many hours of research and writing to produce a post like this, and I can only continue to dedicate my time to this site if more people visit.

I don’t spend any money on advertising, so I rely on visitors like you to help increase visibility for my content.

Old News Alerts

NEWS ALERT: On Thursday, December 13th 2018 the Department of Education announced they will begin issuing Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Discharges for up to $150,000,000 in contested student loans. This is in direct response to a Federal Judge’s ruling that Betsy DeVos needed to terminate all delays in the BDAR approvals process.

Odds are very good that University of Phoenix loans will be included in this wave of approvals, and DOE promised to start emailing borrowers on Friday December 14th to alert them that their debts from the cancelled loans would be eliminated within 30 to 90 days.

Pay close attention to your email if you already submitted a BDAR request, and make sure to get your application in NOW if you have’t already sent it through!

Disclaimer:Information obtained from Forget Student Loan Debt is for educational purposes only. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any financial decisions. This site receives some compensation through affiliate relationships. This site is not endorsed or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education.


Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt in 2011, where he offers advice, tips and tricks for paying off student loans as quickly and affordably as possible.