- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Secures $455,000 in Refunds for Students Deceived by Online For-profit School
Boston — For-profit school DeVry University has agreed to pay $455,000 in refunds to resolve allegations that it used deceptive job placement rates in marketing certain online programs to Massachusetts students, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. This is the office’s first settlement reached with a school operating only online.
The Assurance of Discontinuance, filed Friday in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that DeVry University unfairly and deceptively convinced students to take on federal loan debt and enroll with the promise of careers in their field of study. DeVry offers online programs in Massachusetts, but does not operate a physical campus as it does in many other states.
“For years, for-profit schools have tricked students into unaffordable loans with false promises of high earnings and job opportunities. Now, online programs like DeVry are following the same playbook,” AG Healey said. “We will continue to hold these institutions accountable for lying to students.”
According to the AG’s investigation, DeVry made various claims concerning the employment outcomes of graduates, including on its website, in social media, print advertisements, through television commercials, telephone and in-person presentations to prospective students.
The settlement alleges that DeVry prominently advertised that 90 percent of graduates who sought employment landed jobs in their field of study within six months of graduating. In fact, the AG’s investigation found that certain DeVry programs had job placement rates as low as 52 percent.
Under the terms of the settlement, DeVry will pay $455,000 in restitution to affected students and is prohibited from misrepresenting the employment outcomes or salaries of its graduates.
More than 100 of DeVry’s Massachusetts graduates are expected to be eligible for settlement payments. The AG’s Office will be reaching out to affected students with more information. Many of these students may also be eligible for payments under a settlement that the FTC reached with DeVry in December 2016.
AG Healey has taken a series of actions against predatory for-profit schools and made securing student loan relief a top priority. In November 2016, her office obtained $2.4 million from national loan servicer ACS for failing to properly process applications for federal income-driven repayment plans and engaging in harassing debt collection. AG Healey also brought enforcement actions against student debt relief companies and filed lawsuits against ITT Tech, Corinthian, American Career Institute, and an unlicensed for-profit nursing school alleging unfair and deceptive practices.
Based on her lawsuits and investigations, AG Healey successfully petitioned the U.S. Department of Education to automatically discharge the federal loans of all students who attended the American Career Institute, and accept discharge applications from over 2,000 Massachusetts Corinthian students. To date, the AG’s Office has met with more than 1,200 Corinthian borrowers in order to help them apply for these loan discharges.
AG Healey’s Office also reached settlements worth more than $6 million with Kaplan Career Institute, Lincoln Tech, Sullivan & Cogliano, and Salter College. In March, the AG’s Office launched a campaign to help families learn how to decode financial aid award letters.
Students looking for more information or assistance should visit the AG’s Student Lending Assistance page or call the Student Loan Assistance Unit Hotline at 1-888-830-6277.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Nsahlai, Division Chief Glenn Kaplan, and Investigations Supervisor Arwen Thoman, all of the Attorney General’s Insurance and Financial Services Division.