TIME Education

The University of Phoenix Is Under Federal Investigation

The main building of the University of Phoenix, part of Apollo Group Inc., is seen in Phoenix on Oct. 14, 2010.
Joshua Lott—Bloomberg/Getty Images The main building of the University of Phoenix, part of Apollo Group Inc., is seen in Phoenix on Oct. 14, 2010.

The online college is under scrutiny for possible deceptive or unfair business practices

WASHINGTON — The University of Phoenix, an online college popular among military veterans, is under federal investigation for possible deceptive or unfair business practices, its parent company the Apollo Education Group announced Wednesday.

The for-profit, publicly traded company is the largest recipient of federal student aid for veterans and often a sponsor at military education and employment events. Since 2009 when the GI bill expanded student aid benefits for veterans, the University of Phoenix has taken in more than $488 million in tuition and fees — a figure that dwarfs nearly every other institution identified as a GI recipient by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company told shareholders that it received a “civil investigative demand” from the Federal Trade Commission this week. According to the document, investigators asked for information on a “broad spectrum” of matters, including marketing, recruiting, enrollment, financial aid, tuition, academic programs, billing and debt collection, as well other facets of the business. The filing lists “military recruitment” as one of the areas the FTC is examining.

The filing said Apollo is “evaluating the demand and intends to cooperate fully with the FTC.”

Apollo and the FTC declined to comment further.

The FTC probe is the latest of many state and federal investigations into the for-profit college industry. Critics say many of these colleges are aggressive in recruiting students who qualify for large amounts of federal student aid, including GI money. The credits often don’t transfer to other schools and aren’t recognized by employers.

Industry officials say they are unfairly being scrutinized, and say for-profit schools have expanded education opportunities to communities who wouldn’t otherwise have access.

On July 1, new federal rules went into effect for any school with a career-training program. Graduates have to be able to earn enough money to repay their student loans, or a school risks losing access to financial aid.

TIME facebook

Mobile Is Facebook’s Cash Cow

Views of The Facebook Inc. Logo Ahead of Earnings
Bloomberg—Getty Images The login page for the Facebook Inc. mobile application is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5.

Money from mobile ads is dominating its total revenue.

Facebook’s continued efforts on mobile — and mobile ads — continue to pay off this quarter.

On Wednesday, the social network released its quarterly figures for 2015’s second quarter, and to the delight of investors, its mobile advertising revenue continues to grow, now making up 76% of its total ad revenue, or $2.9 billion. In the first quarter, it was only 73%, and in the second quarter of 2014 it was a mere 62%.

Facebook [fortune-stock symbol=”FB”] now has more than 1.31 billion mobile monthly users and 844 million mobile daily active users, a steady climb on that front.

For a couple of years now, Facebook has touted is new focus on mobile to investors, and Wednesday’s numbers should continue to backup the company’s claim.

 

TIME Whole Foods

Whole Foods Sales Hurt By Overcharging Allegations

Inside A Whole Foods Market Inc. Store As Profit Tops Estimates
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

They didn't climb as much as Wall Street had hoped

Allegations that Whole Foods Market locations in New York City overcharged for prepackaged foods dragged down sales in the final weeks of the retailer’s latest quarterly results.

Shares in Whole Foods badly dipped in after-hours trading on Wednesday as the company’s results for the third-quarter ended July 5, as well as outlook commentary for the current sales period, fell short of expectations.

It is interesting to note that same-store sales growth dramatically slowed in the days after Whole Foods generated negative press attention after a New York City Department of Consumer Affairs report released the results of an investigation that alleged stores in the area listed improper weights on prepackaged foods, resulting in overcharges. Whole Foods executives later issued an apology.

Same-store sales for the first 10 weeks of the third quarter were up 2.6%, but growth slowed to just 0.4% in the final two weeks of the quarter. In the first three weeks of the current fourth quarter, a period that ended July 26, same-store sales still only rose a slim 0.6%.

Overall, sales totaled $3.63 billion for the latest period, with profit of 43 cents a share, both rising from last year but not reaching the levels analysts had hoped for. Whole Foods also said it sees 7% sales growth for the fourth quarter, while analysts had projected a 10% increase.

Whole Foods has felt some competitive pressure of late as explosive demand for natural and organic food products has led other retail rivals to increase their shelf space for those items. And Whole Foods perennially needs to combat the perception that its prices are too high, which has led to the unflattering nickname “Whole Paycheck.”

In a notable pivot, Whole Foods earlier this year announced plans to launch a new chain of lower-priced stores for people that can’t afford its premium and organic food. The store concept, meant to target millennial shoppers, should have five stores running in the second half of next year with plans to double the amount of locations in 2017. Whole Foods currently operates 424 stores, so the less-costly chain will only provide a fairly minimum boost to overall sales in the initial years.

“We are really excited about the progress we have made with securing real estate in markets where there is high demand for both quality food and value in a convenient format,” said Jeff Turnas, president of the new concept, called 365 by Whole Foods Market. The first opening will occur in Los Angeles.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Leave a Job on Great Terms

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Offer to train your replacement

The Muse logo

You’ve nailed the interview, negotiated your salary, and just signed on the dotted line to accept your new job. Now, there’s just one tiny thing standing in the way of you and your sweet new gig: your old one.

When you’re job hunting, you tend to think a lot about what it takes to land a new position, but there’s a great deal to consider about the one you’re leaving, too. Even if you’d love to give your boss a piece of your mind or secretly hope that your co-workers end up on a deserted island after their next holiday cruise, it’s important to leave your job on a positive, professional note. Here’s how to do it:

Give Ample Notice

Once you know you’re leaving, set a meeting with your boss to put in your official notice. (And yes, tell your boss before you tell anyone else!) Although two weeks is standard (unless your contract says otherwise), it’s a good gesture to give more time if you know exactly the date you’ll be leaving further in advance. Most of the time, your boss will be appreciative that you’re leaving plenty of time to wrap up your projects.

Caveat: If you’ve seen your company escort employees right out the door once they give their resignation, don’t give any more notice than two weeks. In this case, it’s best to prepare yourself well in advance by tying up loose ends (i.e., downloading important files) before making your announcement.

Play it Cool

Unless you’ve just hit the Powerball, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have a long work life ahead of you. Which means that, at some point, your path will cross again with many of the people you work with.

So, no matter how happy you are about your new job, you can’t show it. First of all, no one likes a bragger (especially if they’re trying to get out of there, too). Secondly, there’s a good chance you’ll need to use your current company as a reference in the future. Do you really want your boss to remember you doing the Moonwalk down the hallway out of sheer giddiness on your last week? Probably not.

Connect with your Co-Workers

That said, once you’ve told your boss, you should announce your departure to all of the co-workers you work with—both to let them prepare for the transition, as well as to stay in touch with them after you leave. It’s appropriate to send a mass farewell email—one specific to clients and one for co-workers—letting them know where you’ll be moving on to and your relevant contact information. You don’t need to give everyone your home address or your birthday, but a personal email address orLinkedIn profile where you can be reached is a great way to show that even though you’re leaving, you’re not severing ties.

Wrap Things Up

No matter what projects you happen to be working on, make sure you complete them. Even if finishing whatever is currently on your plate requires more hours than you would like to spend on your current job, it’s your responsibility to not leave any loose ends (or, if it really can’t be wrapped up in two weeks, to leave detailed instructions). Not only for the sake of the person who will be replacing you, but because it’s important to your professional reputation to leave a job on a high and positive note. Nothing shows gratitude and accountability like a job that’s done well—and finished.

Offer to Train Your Replacement

There’s nothing a boss hates more than going through the hiring process—except having to train that new employee. And honestly, she probably doesn’t know your position as well as you do. So, if you can help with this part of your exit, then you’re winning points all around. Offer to help your boss screen resumes, sit in on interviews, work with the new employee, or create a training manual for your job. It will go a long way to leaving her with good impression once you’re gone.

Request an Exit Interview

Even if your company’s policy doesn’t include an exit interview, ask your boss for one anyway. Then, use that time to show your gratitude for the opportunities you’ve received, share what you’ve learned, and offer feedback for the next person who will fill your role. It will show that you not only took your job seriously, but that you’re grateful for the experience.

Pat Yourself on the Back

Once you’re sitting pretty in your new job and still on speaking terms with all parties involved, then you can take a breather and congratulate yourself. You did it! Just be sure to send your old job a thank-you note if they were kind enough to send you off with a going away bash and cupcakes. Showing gratitude, manners, and professionalism will make sure they’ll remember you fondly (whether or not you can say the same for them).

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article above was originally published on The Muse

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TIME Uber

StubHub’s App Now Lets You Request an Uber To Your Event

They want to make sure you get to the show on time

StubHub isn’t content to simply sell you ridiculously expensive Taylor Swift concert tickets. It wants to make sure you get to the show on time too.

On Wednesday, the event ticket marketplace announced that it’s teaming up with ride-hailing startup Uber and integrating the service into its iOS and Android mobile apps. Now, when customers purchase tickets, they can set a reminder in the app to order an Uber ride for the day of the event, or, if they purchase tickets within two hours of the event, they can immediately book a ride right from StubHub’s app.

“This integration marks another step towards StubHub’s vision to become an end-to-end live entertainment service, moving users from discovery to purchasing to planning,” StubHub’s head of mobile Parag Vaish said in a statement.

For now, the integration is only available in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, StubHub said.

Uber originally released access to its application program interface (API) in 2014, and its potential uses were quickly obvious. The service has already been integrated into apps such as the Starbucks ordering app (for a ride to pick up that cup o’ joe), Hinge (for a ride to that hot date), and OpenTable (for a ride to that overpriced fancy restaurant), among others.

TIME advice

How to Decide Whether to Rent or Buy a Home

toy-house
Getty Images

Thinking about how long you'll be in the property

When determining whether or not you’re ready to be a homeowner, there are a number of factors to consider — several of which are personal, and hinge on exactly where you want to live.

“Many property experts would say that there are parts of the country where renting outweighs the costs of ownership,” says Brian Sergi-Curfman, a Realtor in Pittsburgh. “Potential buyers or tenants may find themselves in markets that are depreciating or, conversely, in areas where values have priced them out of the housing market. The decision to rent or buy should be influenced not only by market trends but by the client’s long- and short-term goals.”

Sheryl Grider Whitehurst, regional vice president for the National Association of Realtors, says home ownership rates are declining, having reached a peak at 69.4 percent in 2004. In the first quarter of 2015, the home ownership rate was 63.8 percent, which is the lowest it’s been since 1994.

“Young people are delaying buying a home due to student debt,” Grider Whitehurst says. “They just aren’t earning enough to carry a mortgage and the debt. Another factor is the economic crisis that occurred in 2007. People started losing their properties and have to get their finances in order to buy property again.”

And yet nationally, buying a home is 35 percent cheaper than renting, according to Trulia.com. With 30-year mortgage rates available below 4 percent, home ownership appears more affordable than many might think.

The economics of where you live certainly weigh heavily on the decision to buy or rent, but what other factors should you consider?

The pros and cons of renting

After 20 years of owning a three-bedroom, three-bath, two-story home on a steeply sloped lot, empty nesters Gay and Harry Stephens were ready to downsize. They now live in a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in a building that was once an all-girls Catholic school in Newport, Kentucky.

“We wanted to rent because it’s easier to take care of and we have the ability to turn the key and walk away when traveling,” she says. “There’s no yard work, and someone else is now responsible when there are maintenance issues.”

Gay Stephens says the couple also likes their location and accessibility to favorite restaurants and entertainment venues in Northern Kentucky and downtown Cincinnati.

“I was surprised how much I enjoy urban living,” she says, adding that there are some negatives to renting, such as slow response times for repairs and not building equity through their housing costs.

Other disadvantages to renting can include unanticipated rent increases, non-renewal of a lease, and not being able to customize the living space.

“On the other hand, you’re not tied to the property nor do you have to come up with a down payment and closing costs to live there,” says Realtor Josh Bushner in Austin, Texas. “If you’re new to a city or not sure you’ll be there for longer than three years, I usually recommend renting until you’re certain you’ll be staying longer. Also, make sure coming up with a down payment won’t put you in a cash-strapped position. Take time to get familiar with a city and find neighborhoods that will meet your lifestyle.”

Elizabeth Cales of Clarksville, Tennessee, says that despite being financially secure enough to purchase a home, she’s happy to rent.

“It’s a buyer’s market here,” she says. “You can get a mortgage for $650 a month, which is what we pay in rent, but with my husband’s work we’re not sure we’ll be here in three years. We don’t want to take a loss on a house we might not be able to sell.”

Cales says one of her favorite aspects of apartment living is the close-knit community, so much so that the Angie’s List member gave her complex a positive review. “The neighbors are all close and it’s just nice,” she says. “I feel more secure having people around.”

The pros and cons of owning a home

Home equity is one of the biggest assets to buying instead of renting. In addition, most buyers can obtain tax benefits by writing off real estate taxes, mortgage interest, and specific closing costs, whereas renters don’t typically get federal tax deductions. Although, some states will offer a tax break for renters.

In addition, house renters often don’t realize that they’re paying the principle, interest, taxes, and insurance (and usually some extra padding for landlord repairs) in their monthly payments, which could be put toward building equity in their own homes.

Newlywed Leslie Radigan-Yodice of Albuquerque, New Mexico, initially thought she and her expanded family would move from an apartment into a rental home, but after figuring out the finances, they decided in the summer of 2014 that it was a great time to buy.

“My monthly payment is about $300 more, but we have a four bedroom, two-bath house with a garage,” she says. “I love that we’re building equity while creating a true home. And I love that I don’t have to walk across the street to do my laundry.”

Sometimes, the decision to own a home comes down to certain intangibles.

“While there’s definitely a strict financial answer to whether it’s better to rent versus buy, don’t discount the emotional part of the process,” says Deb Agliano of Re/Max Andrew Realty in Medford, Massachusetts. “For some people, it’s not a matter of what makes more financial sense, emotionally they want to know that they own their own home.”

Mary and Garret Goetzinger of Portland, Oregon, say owning their four-bedroom Craftsman is a welcome change after 15 years of renting.

“Being able to create your own space and freedom to design it however you want is a positive,” the couple agree, noting that they did have to move a little farther out than they anticipated to get the house they wanted. “Owning a home isn’t cheap, and we’re on the hook if something goes wrong.”

Handling the maintenance, upkeep and repairs is one of the biggest differences for Janice Pare and her husband Gordon Wichern, who recently purchased a three-bedroom Cape Cod in Arlington, Massachusetts.

“One other negative is the lack of flexibility to move whenever and wherever we want with just 30 days notice,” Pare says. “But we feel that being homeowners makes us more invested in our community, and we plan to get more involved in our new part of town.”

Deciding to buy a house is a big responsibility, and potential homeowners need to answer some serious questions before taking that leap, says real estate agent Dianne Hansen in Fairfax, Virginia.

“Will it give you a sense of pride?” she asks. “Are repairs stressful or something you’re willing to learn to do? How long will you be in the house? If it’s less than two years, it might not be worth buying. If you’ll be there five or more years, it’s a good bet.”

So … rent or buy?

After weighing all the factors, it might come down to what will make you happy.

“If you’re not sure if you want to buy or rent, think about the enjoyment you will get out of owning your own home,” Hansen says. “If there isn’t any, you might want to rent for a few more years.”
Sergi-Curfman agrees, and says no one should frown upon the idea of renting.

“The American dream has always included the white picket fence surrounding a house in the suburbs, but for many people, this dream is really a myth,” he says. “Renting should never be looked at as inferior to owning a home. You and only you know your goals best, and it is incumbent upon any potential buyer or renter to seek out professional advice from people that they trust to give them a fuller financial picture of their current and future goals.”

Yet, Grider Whitehurst says despite the potential attractiveness of renting, most people want to own a home at some point in their lives.

“Overwhelmingly, Americans see home ownership as a good investment,” she says. “You have to pay to live somewhere — whether you rent or own. You just have to know when is the right time for you.”

This article originally appeared on Angie’s List

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MONEY

Why Rich People Think the Poor Aren’t That Poor

two couples on a yacht
Mike Watson Images—Getty Images

And why they don't see much need for wealth distribution.

When Jacob Riis published his study of New York tenement life in 1890, he called it How the Other Half Lives, as if people really needed to know.

More than a century later, many of us are still suffering from the same type of myopia, at least according to a recent study by psychologists in the U.K and New Zealand and reported in The Washington Post Tuesday.

The study of 600 Americans, conducted over the Internet, found wealthy people tended to report particularly high levels of wealth in their social circles. While that may not be surprising, that cossetting seemed to lead in turn to wealthier Americans over-estimating average wealth among the general U.S. population — as well as assuming “greater perceived fairness” in the economy.

In other words, the rich still think the most Americans are doing okay– or should be — because they and their friends are.

The results certainly have political implications. The authors suggest the rich might be more open to wealth redistribution if they had a truer sense of America’s income inequality and how the economic landscape appears to the poor.

Students of behavioral finance might also see the new research as the flip side of a behavioral tick that has long bedeviled anyone struggling to keep a budget. It’s long been established that having wealthy friends and neighbors tends to shift your lifestyle expectations: We all want to keep up the the Joneses. But that’s not necessarily healthy for your budget or your sense of well-being.

Read next: Why 15% of Americans Still Don’t Have the Internet

TIME Disney

Disney World’s EPCOT Is About To Get Way Better

Florida, Orlando, Epcot Center, View Including Sphere And Monorail.
Education Images—UIG via Getty Images Disney World's Epcot theme park in Orlando, Fla.

A beloved attraction is coming back

It’s back: Disney’s Captain EO ride.

The attraction, which graced Epcot originally from 1986 to 1994, stars the King of Pop himself in full 3-D glory. The ride was brought back in 2010 after the pop star’s death, and Disney is reinstating it again. Captain EO is a pure 1980s throwback full of nostalgia for Millennials (and their parents) that grew up visiting the Orlando theme park.

The ride features 17 minutes of Jackson and a mangy team of freedom fighters battling to “bring freedom to countless worlds of despair.” It includes songs such as “We Are Here to change the World” and “Another Part of Me,” and it was executive produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. When it was made, it was the most expensive film per minute, costing an estimated $30 million.

Captain EO was taken down in April this year to make room for a preview of “Tomorrowland” and later the animated feature “Inside Out.”

MONEY Customer Service

Here Are the Customer Service Practices You Hate the Most

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Too often, customer service is indifferent, incompetent, or both.

The good news from the new Consumer Reports survey about customer service is that overall it seems to be getting … less bad. The survey’s findings, published in the September 2015 issue, indicate that consumers are less likely to be irritated by customer service than they were in 2011, when a similar poll was taken.

That doesn’t mean consumers are happy with the state of customer service. Far from it. “Many companies today are simply awful at resolving customer problems,” Scott Broetzmann, president of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting, told Consumer Reports. “Customers spend valuable time and invest considerable effort—and get little in return.”

Here are the practices and behaviors that get customers most annoyed:

• 75% say they’re “highly annoyed” when they can’t get a live person on the phone to help with a problem; in 2011, meanwhile, 71% of those polled by CR said they were “tremendously annoyed” when they couldn’t reach a live customer service rep over the phone.

• 75% are highly annoyed by rude or condescending employees.

• 74% have been driven batty by disconnected phone calls placed to customer service lines.

• 70% are highly upset by being transferred to a different customer service agent—who also can’t help or is just plain wrong.

Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) are also aggravated by companies that don’t make it easy to find their customer service phone numbers, while two-thirds of consumers say they’re annoyed by long wait times, phone trees that require callers to press multiple buttons, and the need to repeat one’s personal information over and over.

MORE: 10 Funniest & Most Creative Consumer Complaints Ever
Customer Service Hell

MONEY mortgage

This City Has Nation’s Healthiest Housing Market

Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts
Getty Images/iStockphoto Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts

The healthiest market isn't necessarily the most affordable.

The Red Sox may be in the cellar. But when it comes to its housing market, Boston is first in the nation.

That’s according to a recent report by financial Web site WalletHub, which ranked the relative health of real estate markets in the nation’s 25 largest metro areas. Researchers determined a market’s “health” based on factors like how much equity owners had in their homes and who paid the lowest interest rates.

Oklahoma City ranked second; San Antonio was third. Four Florida cities ranked in the bottom 10 (Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa), while Las Vegas was dead last.

On average home owners in Boston have 43% equity in their homes, meaning their mortgages amounted to only slightly more than half their home’s value. The rate was second in the nation, just behind New York City.

Boston also had the second smallest pool of “underwater” mortgages — the scenario in which the owner owes the bank more than the home is worth. About 6.7% of Boston mortgages were underwater, placing just behind Rochester, N.Y. In Las Vegas, by contrast, 39% of homes are underwater.

Of course, one thing that a “healthy” housing market doesn’t guarantee is that you can afford to live there. Boston’s median home price is nearly $450,000, according to Zillow. That’s up from $326,000 at the height of the housing crisis.

The key to Boston’s success: Attractive housing stock and a strong technology and life sciences industry that have helped draw investment and educated young people, according the hometown paper, the Globe.

 

 

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