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DeVry University agrees to pay $100M to settle federal charges

By Doug G. Ware

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- For-profit DeVry University agreed Thursday to pay $100 million to settle federal charges that said it recruited prospective students with deceptive advertisements about the success of former students.

The Federal Trade Commission said DeVry, a school with physical and online campuses, misled potential recruits with ads that cited false employment success rates and income levels for students who graduated in the past.

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The deceptive ads, federal regulators claimed, caused financial harm to tens of thousands of students who enrolled.

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"When people are making important decisions about their education and their future, they should not be misled by deceptive employment and earnings claims," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in an announcement of the deal Thursday. "The FTC has secured compensation for the many students who were harmed, and I am pleased that DeVry is changing its practices."

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Under the terms of the deal, DeVry and parent company DeVry Education Group, will pay $49.4 million to qualifying students who were harmed by the deceptive ads, and $50.6 million in debt relief.

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Student debt being forgiven includes the full balance owed -- $30.3 million -- on all private unpaid student loans issued between 2008 and 2015 -- and $20.3 million for items like tuition, books and fees.

The FTC first announced the charges in January.

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"I am pleased to put this regulatory matter behind us so we can move forward with focus on investments that directly support student success," DeVry CEO Lisa Warner Wardell said via Twitter Thursday.

DeVry said it also expects a pre-tax settlement charge between $52-55 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2017, in connection with the settlement.

Further, DeVry said it agreed in the settlement to "maintain specific substantiation to support any future advertising regarding graduate outcomes and educational benefits."

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The agreement, which needs approval by a judge, also doesn't require DeVry to admit to any wrongdoing in the case.

Founded in 1931, DeVry has more than 40,000 students at more than 50 U.S. campuses nationwide.

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