The U.S. Education Department announced a settlement agreement Thursday with DeVry University over its alleged use of misleading job placement claims in advertising and recruitment materials.
"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," U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said in a statement.
At issue is DeVry's claim that since 1975, 90 percent of its graduates landed a job in their field of study within six months of graduation. The U.S. Education Department says DeVry has not substantiated that claim.
As part of the settlement, the Education Department will increase its oversight over the for-profit college chain. DeVry will participate in federal student aid programs only with a "provisional status" for five years.
Here are other components of the settlement, as detailed by the Education Department:
- Cease publishing marketing claims that include the "Since 1975 Representation;"
- Cease making any representations about post-graduation employment rates without possessing and maintaining (1) graduate-specific data to substantiate those representations; and (2) documentation of the methodology used to calculate any claims. DeVry must also certify, and provide an independent certification to the Department, of its compliance with these documentation requirements;
- Post an irrevocable, five-year letter of credit of no less than $68.4 million;
- Prominently disclose, for a period of two years, a notice on its online home page regarding its failure to substantiate the "Since 1975 Representation" and include the same language in new enrollment agreements for a period of five years; and
- Take steps to rid the internet of the "Since 1975 Representation" (both on its own website and on websites not under its direct control).
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) issued a statement on the settlement agreement.
"When DeVry could not produce student records to verify their claims that their graduates were actually employed, the Department of Education had no choice but to put the school on provisional status to protect students and taxpayers," he said. "Requiring that DeVry make honest disclosures to students of their actual job placement results and that the school provide a letter of credit to protect taxpayers in the future are prudent steps when we consider our recent experience with other for-profit schools. I commend the Department of Education for making it clear that the days of misleading students and leaving taxpayers holding the bag are coming to an end in the for-profit college world."