Ellen DeGeneres has gotten herself into hot water this week with student debt activists.
These groups have taken to social media and blogs with the hashtag #ComeBackEllen after she featured a University of Phoenix episode on Monday’s episode of her show. The school, in the company of others in the for-profit college industry, has come under fire over the last few years for their aggressive tactics used in luring students who may struggle to complete their degrees, despite large debt loads.
Maggie Thompson, the executive director of Generation Progress, which is a youth-focused advocacy arm of the Center for American Progress, shared her thoughts on the topic stating, “Ellen has been such a progressive champion on so many issues, we were just really stunned that she was lending her brand to what is, in our opinion, one of the most predatory for-profit colleges out there.”
This all started on Monday’s episode where DeGeneres presented a stay-at-home mom, with aspirations of becoming an ultrasound technician, with a $25,000 scholarship from none-other-than the University of Phoenix. Viewers can also apply on the Ellen Show’s website to win one of 10 full-tuition scholarships to the school.
“If you’re going to integrate commercials into your television programs you should at least make sure it’s a product that would be a good value for your audience and I don’t think The Ellen Show did that here,” explains David Halperin a lawyer and advocate who works on for-profit college issues.
It is still unclear what the current financial agreement between the Ellen Show and University of Phoenix is at this time and the shows parent company, Warner Brothers, hasn’t immediately responded to requests for comments.
It’s also important to note the University of Phoenix’s parent company, the Apollo Education Group, reported another money-losing quarter to investors on April 6th noting enrollment fell a whopping 24 percent over the past year and net revenues slipped 19 percent.
Additionally, new enrollment skidded 39 percent over the same period a year ago, contributing to an $80 million operating loss for the quarter.
The latest declining numbers, along with heavy layoffs at the university outlined Tuesday and additional filings by Apollo, underscore why the company is urging investors to approve the proposed $1.1 billion sale.
It remains to be seen what ultimately happens to the Apollo Group and how the Ellen Show responds to this massive controversy they’ve found themselves in.