The University of Phoenix has received more than $1.2 billion in GI Bill money since 2009. Credit: Adithya Sambamurthy/Reveal

The Pentagon has taken the University of Phoenix off probation, three months after suspending the for-profit school from its military financial aid program and from recruiting on military bases.

The Department of Defense placed the University of Phoenix on probation in October, after a Reveal investigation exposed how the for-profit college violated the intent of an executive order by paying the military for exclusive access to bases and improperly used military logos.

While the school again will be eligible to participate in the military’s tuition assistance program, the Pentagon will continue to strictly monitor the university through 2017, according to filings the university’s parent corporation made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

A Department of Defense official said the university will be subject to a “heightened compliance review” for the next year, during which time the Pentagon reserves the right to renew the ban if the for-profit university doesn’t comply with all the rules of the military tuition assistance program.

The lifting of the ban, announced last week, was welcome news to the University of Phoenix, which received $20 million from the program in 2014 .

“Our commitment to compliance, transparency and continuous improvement remains constant,” University of Phoenix President Timothy P. Slottow said in a statement provided to media outlets, “and we are grateful to leaders at the Department of Defense and in Congress for supporting a clear process and high standards from all educational institutions, and for ensuring military students are able to use their educational benefits for career-relevant programs at University of Phoenix.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a leading congressman who called for a Pentagon investigation into the for-profit school, said he hopes the Department of Defense continues to monitor the school’s practices closely. Through a spokesman, Durbin said the Pentagon’s “swift action” against the University of Phoenix after Reveal’s investigation “sent a strong message of enforcement to the entire for-profit college industry.”

Previously, Durbin also had asked the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs to review the Defense Department’s findings and take actions to protect other government funds. In addition to the military assistance, the college has received more than $1.2 billion in GI Bill money since 2009.

The University of Phoenix’s relief on the Pentagon front comes as it faces other uncertainties. The school’s parent company, Apollo Education Group Inc., told investors last week that it is exploring “strategic alternatives,” which could lead to selling off the University of Phoenix and perhaps the entire company.

Amy Julia Harris

Amy Julia Harris is a reporter for Reveal, covering vulnerable communities. She and Reveal reporter Shoshana Walter exposed how courts across the country are sending defendants to rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry. Their work was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting and won a Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. It also led to four government investigations, including two criminal probes and four federal class-action lawsuits alleging slavery and fraud.

Harris was a Livingston Award for Young Journalists finalist for her investigation into the lack of government oversight of religious-based day cares, which led to tragedies for children in Alabama and elsewhere. In a previous project for Reveal, she uncovered widespread squalor in a public housing complex in the San Francisco Bay Area and traced it back to mismanagement and fraud in the troubled public housing agency.

Before joining Reveal, Harris was an education reporter at The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia. She has also written for The Seattle Times, Half Moon Bay Review, and Campaigns and Elections Politics Magazine.