BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho State Board of Education approved the University of Idaho's proposal to create a not-for-profit organization to acquire the University of Phoenix.
By creating the not-for-profit, called NewU, the University will be able to acquire all of the University of Phoenix's assets, which includes its online education infrastructure.
The deal, which has been in the works since the early spring would see the two schools remain separate institutions, but able to share resources.
The proposal says NewU Inc. will acquire the University of Phoenix for $550 million, which will be paid for by bonds, separate from the University of Idaho's funding.
Jodi Walker, the Executive Director of Communications at the University of Idaho, tells Idaho News 6 the online learning capability is a big part of the deal.
"The online platform and the online student success system can be iterated," Walker said. "We can use that same platform, we can use that same technology, we can use those same skills, and things that they've developed over many years and apply those to our University of Idaho Students as well."
The school and the board of education say expanding online learning for the University of Idaho will serve many adult students and students who don't have the capability to move for a degree.
Multiple board members brought up the University of Phoenix's history of misleading students. Back in 2021, the school had to pay out $50 million to almost 150,000 students in a class action for deceptive advertising.
When asked about how the Idaho Board of Education felt confident about the partnership given the school's history, board president Linda Clark said they feel confident in the school's new leadership.
"They're under a new structure and I believe the current University of Phoenix staff, administration are very enthusiastic about becoming a not-for-profit public institution," Clark said. "Many of the challenges that they had in the past could be found in the fact that they were a private for-profit institution."
The acquisition is far from being final, but the first step of board approval is now behind the University of Idaho. The school says the deal likely won't be complete until at least the start of 2024.