FTC: DeVry University Misled Consumers

Posted at 11:39 AM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 15:29:08-05

If you're looking to get ahead in your career, you might have thought about going back to school and getting your degree. However, federal regulators have warned consumers about DeVry University and its potentially misleading claims to get students in the door.    

The Federal Trade Commission has now sued DeVry University for allegedly misleading consumers.

According to the FTC, DeVry stretched the truth when it advertised how well its students do after they graduate.

The lawsuit claims DeVry exaggerated the numbers of its graduates who get well-paid jobs in their fields. DeVry claimed in ads that 90 percent of its students got new jobs in their field of study within six months of graduating. 

But federal regulators said – while impressive – it's not true.

It turns out, in coming up with that 90 percent success rate, DeVry counted students who had already been working at their jobs before even enrolling at DeVry. 

The company even counted students who were not working in their field of study, including a student who specialized in health services management at DeVry but who was working as a server in a restaurant.  

DeVry is the third largest for-profit school like this in the nation. It has dozens of campuses around the country and also offers classes online. 

Here in Nashville, they have a campus over on Perimeter Hill Drive in Antioch. The school here was not specifically named in Wednesday's lawsuit, but it is one of the more than 50 campuses operated by the parent company named in the suit.  

The lawsuit also claims DeVry overstated the average earnings of its graduates.

According to DeVry, its students who received bachelor degrees got paid 15 percent more than graduates from all other colleges and universities because they attended DeVry. Federal regulators said there's just no data to back that up. 

The U.S. Department of Education also took action against DeVry in a related action. The department told DeVry it had to stop making the same sorts of misleading claims in its ads because institutions must be accurate in their marketing and recruiting of prospective students. 

***Update 1/28/16
One day after the FTC went after DeVry, NewsChannel 5 Investigates received a statement from the company regarding the lawsuit, indicating that DeVry "intends to vigorously contest" the lawsuit, claiming the suit "is without a valid legal basis." In the statement, DeVry also claims the examples the FTC used in its lawsuit to illustrate how DeVry misled consumers "exaggerate the allegations, but do not prove them."

Click here to read DeVry's full statement.