DeVry Education Group responded Wednesday to a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission earlier in the day. The complaint alleges that DeVry’s advertisements deceived consumers about the chances of students finding jobs in their areas of study and that they would earn more than those graduating with bachelor's degrees from other colleges or universities.
In the complaint, the FTC alleges that the defendants’ claim that 90% of DeVry graduates actively seeking employment landed jobs in their field within six months of graduation was deceptive. The complaint charges that another key claim made by DeVry, that its graduates had 15% higher incomes one year after graduation on average than the graduates of all other colleges or universities, also was deceptive.
The complaint notes that these claims appeared in the defendants’ advertising on television, radio, online, print and other media. The 90% claim was central to their marketing efforts since at least 2008 and the income superiority claim began in 2013.
The statement from DeVry officials:
DeVry Education Group intends to vigorously contest a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), challenging the employment and earnings outcomes of DeVry University graduates. DeVry Group also learned Wednesday that the Department of Education ("the Department”) has taken an administrative action related more narrowly to certain DeVry University records for the period 1975 to 1983. We intend to request a hearing on the Department’s decision, and will collaborate closely with the Department to demonstrate our compliance and resolve this matter satisfactorily.
DeVry Group believes that the FTC’s complaint – filed 40 years after DeVry University began publishing accurate graduate employment statistics – is without a valid legal basis. In addition, the FTC’s complaint contains anecdotal examples that exaggerate the allegations but do not prove them. DeVry University measures the employment and earnings results of its graduates on a sound, rational and transparent basis, and has published these results in a consistent manner over the years to provide students meaningful information.
There is no national standard for calculating employment statistics among higher education institutions, and the measures and standards used by DeVry University to support its statistics are appropriate. Indeed, a taskforce of 39 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia recently developed a methodology very similar to the one DeVry University has had in place for years. And while many other institutions of higher education provide employment statistics, DeVry University’s measures are more rigorous and further substantiated than most.
DeVry Group has sought to fully cooperate with the FTC staff throughout the FTC’s 24- month inquiry, and has provided extensive documentation disproving the FTC’s claims and demonstrating the value of a DeVry University education. Despite this compelling evidence, a fully satisfactory resolution could not be reached.
“DeVry University is an honorable institution with more than 80-years of providing high quality, career-oriented education,” said Daniel Hamburger, DeVry Group’s president and CEO. “We’re proud of our 250,000 alumni, many of whom are employed by America’s most respected employers, including federal, state and local governments. DeVry Group is confident in our defense and looks forward to demonstrating the accuracy and credibility of our students’ career success.”
While the complaint doesn't directly cite potential debt concerns related to the alleged false promises, students who don't ultimately get the earnings they expected are likely to rack up additional debt.
"Millions of Americans look to higher education for training that will lead to meaningful employment and good pay," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "Educational institutions like DeVry owe prospective students the truth about their graduates’ success finding employment in their field of study and the income they can earn."