While research continues to show that a college education leads to better job security and higher pay, the number of people in the United States who enroll in and value higher education is declining. This means colleges need to increase their advertising and incentives to get their enrollment numbers where they want them. However, sometimes the promises go too far and universities may use deceptive advertising and false statements to attract students to attend.
Deception in advertising is any published writing or visual promotion that leads consumers to believe an incorrect fact about a service or product. In the case of higher education institutes, the false promises they might make often concern cost and financial aid, specific career outcomes, or credit transfers to other universities. The Federal Trade Commission has acknowledged that this is a problem among for-profit institutions and is beginning to investigate claims of false advertising.
Deceptive Advertising in Higher Education: Examples
While telling prospective students that they have “the best” programs might not be materially misleading, informing potential students that a specific degree program can lead to a specific career can be a form of false advertising. Colleges may also make false promises about job prospects or compensation after graduation. Another common deception is implying that the credits you earn at their college will transfer to another.
Deceptive Advertising: Current Cases
In a recent case against DeVry University, the federal government found that the DeVry deceptively advertised that 90 percent of its graduates seeking employment landed jobs in their field within six months of graduation. DeVry agreed to pay a $100m settlement for misleading prospective students with ads that touted high employment success rates and income levels upon graduation. As a part of the settlement, DeVry agreed to pay $49.4 million in cash to be distributed to qualifying students who were harmed by the deceptive ads, as well as $50.6 million in debt relief.
Corinthian Colleges Inc. in California also misrepresented facts about job prospects after graduation and the transferability of credits. The Education Department recently approved of canceling all remaining federal loans of students who borrowed while attending one of their 105 campuses. The Federal Trade Commission is continuing to put for-profit colleges on notice moving forward.
Deceptive Advertising: Legality
Using deceptive and misleading advertising is illegal, and there are legal ways you can hold these higher education businesses accountable for their wrongdoings. To intentionally mislead and put forth false claims to boost their enrollment is against consumer rights.
Deceptive Advertising: Litigation
You have the right to sue any corporation that engages in fraudulent or misleading claims. This includes companies that use predatory practices to convince you to buy their product or service. Colleges and universities want you to spend your money with them, but they must adhere to the same false advertising laws as any other business.
Deceptive Advertising in Higher Education: The Next Step To Take
If you have been intentionally misled in order to enroll in a college or university, the next step to take is to reach out to a trusted lawyer. From future career placement to overinflated degree benefits, deceptive advertising is an illegal practice and violates your rights. In California, Matern Law Group has seven convenient locations for you to contact us about a college that has misrepresented any part of your education. You don’t have to fight back alone.