The multistate investigation started in January 2014, and was initiated on the basis of numerous complaints from current and former students.
Attorney General Sam Olens had claimed in a Fulton County Superior Court complaint that the schools were using false and misleading information to recruit students.
“EDMC’s practices were unfair to our state’s students, and they were also unfair to our nation’s taxpayers who backed many of these federal student loans that were destined to fail,” Olens said in a statement. “This is a rigorous agreement that not only provides some relief to a large number of former students through loan forgiveness, but helps ensure that the company will make substantial changes to its business practices for future students.”
Among the more troubling findings, the lawsuit said that EDMC schools misrepresented their graduate employment rates. Recruiters may have said a graduate got a job in his or her chosen field, although the job in question was far below the graduates’ actual field of study.
For example, a recruiter said a graduate with an accounting diploma was “placed in the field,” when in fact the graduate was working as a fast-food cashier.
The Georgia lawsuit made several other accusations against EDMC, including that its colleges:
- Used high-pressure tactics to recruit students that it knew or should have known would not benefit from its programs.
- Misled students about program costs, emphasizing the costs per credit hour rather than the total cost.
- Falsely claimed students who obtained their degrees would earn substantially higher incomes than graduates actually earned.
- Falsely claimed some of its programs were accredited by a body necessary to become licensed in a chosen profession, or that they were seeking accreditation for those programs.
As part of the settlement. EDMC agreed to significantly reform its recruiting and enrollment practices. For example, the company will provide more accurate disclosures to prospective students and grant them more opportunities to withdraw without incurring costs.