DeVry University False Advertising
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The Federal Trade Commission announced that DeVry University, one of the nation’s largest for-profit colleges, agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging its ads misled prospective students.
For years, DeVry marketed for new students touting a claimed high employment rate for recent graduates. DeVry ads made claims such as “90% of our grads actively seeking employment had careers in 6 months.” DeVry also claimed that graduates from DeVry would earn more than those graduating with bachelor’s degrees from other colleges or universities. Advertisements making these claims appeared on television and radio, as well as online and in print and other media.
The Department of Education conducted an investigation, and according to the FTC complaint these representations “are false and unsubstantiated.”
The FTC settlement will only partially compensate students. According to the FTC, the settlement will pay $49.4 million in cash to be distributed to “qualifying” students who were harmed by the deceptive ads, as well as provide certain types of debt relief. The debt being forgiven includes the balance owed on private unpaid student loans that DeVry issued to undergraduates between September 2008 and September 2016, and student debts owed to DeVry for items such as tuition, books and lab fees. No debt relief is provided for other types of student loans or debt. Despite the seemingly large amount of cash in the settlement, the FTC also states that refunds will be limited to “a percentage of the total amount you paid.” The FTC plans to send “partial refunds” to students before the end of summer, but these “partial refunds” will not include students that received debt or loan forgiveness under the settlement.
Veterans Using VA Education Benefits
The Post 9/11 GI Bill, provides education benefits for servicemembers who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001. These benefits are tiered based on the number of days served on active duty.
If you are a veteran who used this benefit towards a degree at DeVry University but were unable to obtain a job upon graduation, you may qualify for refunds and compensation beyond the FTC settlement.
In a letter reprimanding DeVry University, Curtis Coy, the VA Deputy Undersecretary of Economic Opportunity said, “VA is suspending DeVry University’s status as a [Principles of Excellence] institution at least until the conclusion of the FTC lawsuit.”
The letter cites three reasons for the suspension:
- A lawsuit filed against DeVry by the Federal Trade Commission
- Limitations imposed on DeVry by the Education Department, in concert with the FTC action
- Complaints lodged against DeVry by students in the VA GI Bill Feedback System
“The FTC findings, [Education Department] conclusions and GI Feedback System complaints indicate that DeVry University has not acted in accordance with … Principles of Excellence guidelines,” the letter said.
Other qualifying benefits include:
- Montgomery GI Bill
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program, VA Loan Chapter 38
Know Your Rights
As a current or former DeVry student, you may have a claim against DeVry, even if you receive some cash or debt relief from the FTC settlement. Many states, including Texas, have consumer protection laws that prohibit businesses from making false, misleading, or deceptive representations. In Texas, this is known as the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, often referred to simply as the DTPA. The primary purpose of the DTPA is to protect consumers against false, misleading, and deceptive business practices. The DTPA gives consumers the right to sue for damages.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help You
If you decided to become a DeVry student because ads claiming a high employment rate or higher income for graduates, you may be entitled to compensation. The Carlson Law Firm is currently investigating claims against DeVry for current and former students. We believe you may be eligible for refunds and compensation, even if you receive some benefits from the FTC settlement program.
If you or someone you loved attended DeVry in reliance on DeVry’s representations of a high employment rate or higher income for its grads, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
The Carlson Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis, so we won’t get paid unless you do.