DeVry University Drops Claim Regarding Graduates' Employment Success Rate
The for-profit institution could not provide evidence to back up the claim
Large for-profit college chain DeVry University has agreed to drop its claim that 90 percent of its graduates searching for a job have found one in their chosen field within six months of graduation since 1975.
The agreement is the result of a settlement between DeVry and the Department of Education, which requested in August 2015 that the college chain prove the claim, which it has included in advertisements in print, online, and on the radio and television for years.
"DeVry could not provide evidence to substantiate this claim," stated the Department.
U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. elaborated on the requirement for proving such a claim, stating, "Students deserve accurate information about where to invest their time and money, and the law is simple and clear: recruitment claims must be backed up by hard data."
The major for-profit chain—which has at least 55 campuses throughout the U.S. —said it is "pleased" that the matter has been resolved and that it will "continue to cooperate with the Department." It stated that the Department had requested that it provide student-specific data regarding employment rates of graduates since 1975 and that it "lacked such student-specific data for the period from 1975 to October 1980."
According to NPR's Eric Westervelt, the agreement stipulates that "DeVry must stop making that claim on any platform and post a notice on its website stating that the claim is unsubstantiated," a notice that has to stay on the site for two years. Westervelt added that "[t]he chain must also submit to greater federal financial oversight."
It also requires that the institution post a "letter of credit" of more than $68 million to the Department of Education. This money, reports the Associated Press, may be used "as a form of insurance for any liabilities caused by DeVry."
"Today's agreement," writes the Department, "settles only the issue of a single, unsubstantiated claim and does not prohibit the Department from imposing future enforcement actions against DeVry in the event of additional findings."
DeVry was also sued separately in January by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for alleged deceptive advertising. This suit addressed the same claim that the Department of Education did, and it targeted another one besides: the claim that "its graduates had 15 percent higher incomes one year after graduation on average than the graduates of all other colleges or universities."
These suits are part of increasing actions being taken against misleading and deceptive advertising claims and predatory lending practices being undertaken by institutions in the for-profit college industry. Corinthian Colleges was sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2014;Ashworth College settled an FTC complaint in 2015 that charged it had misrepresented the quality of job training that its students would receive;ITT Tech was banned from enrolling new students using federal financial aid money in August and closed all campuses soon after;Bridgepoint Education was penalized in September due to illegal student lending practices; and also in September the independent agency responsible for accrediting many such for-profit schools, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, lost its accreditation.