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AlexiaEsq.
AlexiaEsq., Managing Attorney
Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  19+ Years of Legal Practice in Consumer Protection.
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Four years ago I was told that DeVry University (DeVry) was

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Four years ago I was told that DeVry University (DeVry) was waiting to seek ABET-TAC accreditation of the online engineering programs until they had a graduating class. From what I can gather, DeVry has had graduated classes from the online Electronics Engineering Technology program since o/a 2008 and the Computer Engineering Technology program since o/a 2009. A huge part of my decision to attend DeVry's program online was because the recruiters were originally saying that all their engineering technology programs were ABET-TAC accredited. After paying the fees and starting classes, I found that DeVry's online programs are in-fact, not ABET-TAC accredited. I decided to stick with DeVry's online program as their website says, "ETAC of ABET requires separate review of each engineering technology program both online and at each physical location. The Engineering Technology - Computers, as well as the Engineering Technology - Electronics, programs are offered online only and are currently not accredited by ETAC of ABET. DeVry will seek accreditation for these programs as soon as appropriate, in accordance with ETAC of ABET procedures. Future accreditation is not guaranteed. The CET and EET programs at DeVry Calgary are not eligible for this accreditation." After reviewing the ABET-TAC requirements, it would seem that DeVry is eligible to seek accreditation for their Engineering Technology programs. I emailed ABET.org and asked whether DeVry's online programs were ABET-TAC accredited and I was advised that they are not and DeVry has not filed to seek accreditation of the programs. I talked to a DeVry representative and was told that because they were in the process of ABET-TAC accreditation renewal of their on-campus programs, they didn't want to "muck up the waters by seeking accreditation for their online programs." I explained to them that one of their recruiters at the Miramar, Florida, campus is giving incorrect information and they said they would look into the matter and possibly retrain people. Since that call, I received an email from DeVry that they have not decided to pursue ABET-TAC accreditation and will do so when/if they feel that it is appropriate. I am talking to classmates and they are under the same impression as me, that DeVry would be seeking accreditation but had to wait for graduating classes. Now I am in a predicament now that I have shelled out about $40k-$60k for the classes and my employer will not accept my college degree for the job I had intended to apply for once I graduated. The expenditure of $40k is potential difference per year between my current salary and that of an engineering officer with an ABET-TAC degree. Also, without the ABET-TAC accreditation, some states will not allow engineering licensing. Do I have any recourse?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  AlexiaEsq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thanks for your inquiry! I have been practicing Consumer Protection law for 17+ years and have specific experience with issues like yours.

If you were told by the school (or its agent/recruiter) that it was or would have accreditation in the near future, such that your degree would of value accordingly, and if there was no correction of that information before you agreed to school there (and became obligated financially, and via time expense) - I believe you could have a breach of contract claim, with damages being at least that which you spent minus the value of what you received, since you did not receive what you were promised under that agreement. Now, it is important to determine if your written contract clarifies that the school is unaccredited, because it is does, that is the contract you signed agreement to. However, if the written contract does not speak to the accreditation issue, and only the misrepresentations prior thereto discuss it - you may have a claim based on misrepresentation/deceptive advertising, etc.

Consider taking ALL of your paperwork regarding your schooling to a consumer law attorney or even general practioner who engages in business disputes/contract law who can review the fine print and see if there is anything that would be a flat out bar to success in a suit or settlement negotiations. Getting other students in your same predicament could be useful also - perhaps a multi-plaintiff suit if not just witnesses that can collaborate the misrepresentation scheme.

My thoughts are that if there is nothing contradicting the suit, you may be able to sue for the loss in terms of what you didn't get, as well as the new cost of lost wage increase that would have occurred and the cost of time and money needed to now go secure that degree you want.

Good luck, this sounds very unjust, certainly.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you need follow up before or after RATING me. And PLEASE know that my job depends on a POSITIVE rating now and at least an 8-10 feedback rating later. Thanks! I won't forget your support.

Sincerely,

Alexia Esq.



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Customer: replied 1 year ago.


If my enrollment paperwork is strictly for enrollment and my agreement to pay a certain rate per credit hour and such and does not go into detail about any accreditation, would that be helpful? I am actually overseas for work so my availability of talking with a lawyer is beyond my ability as it stands right now. I am sure that I have my enrollment paperwork somewhere but it mainly has to do with cost breakdowns and credit requirements; I will have to look. Here is a quote from one of the emails I received, "In regards XXXXX XXXXX accreditation we do still intend to submit our application as soon as it is appropriate but there is little else to tell in regards XXXXX XXXXX at the moment." - Dated October 2012. Another one from 2011, "...


currently, our online Electronics Engineering Technology and Computer Engineering Technology degree programs are not TAC of ABET accredited. It is our intention to apply for TAC of ABET accreditation for these two degree programs as soon as appropriate."

Expert:  AlexiaEsq. replied 1 year ago.


If my enrollment paperwork is strictly for enrollment and my agreement to pay a certain rate per credit hour and such and does not go into detail about any accreditation, would that be helpful? If you can prove that the sales person (i.e. recruiter) misrepresented that it was accredited, it would be helpful, yes. Particularly if the website language "not guaranteed" was not there when you applied OR if you were not directed to that particular website page or it was not evidence/easy to find.

I am actually overseas for work so my availability of talking with a lawyer is beyond my ability as it stands right now. Why? (Not that you can talk to me, it is prohibited, but other lawyers are surely willing to take a phone call and can receive faxed or emailed documents, so your distance likely won't be a factor in determining further the strength of any case, given the technologies of the day.

 

I am sure that I have my enrollment paperwork somewhere but it mainly has to do with cost breakdowns and credit requirements; Look also at what you signed.... And gather the proof of what you were told. Without proof, there likely is no case. Emails can help, or, as noted above, other students you were told the same thing.

 

I will have to look. Here is a quote from one of the emails I received, "In regards XXXXX XXXXX accreditation we do still intend to submit our application as soon as it is appropriate but there is little else to tell in regards XXXXX XXXXX at the moment." Did you ask them "what" do you mean, "appropriate" for applicatin purposes? What has to transpire to make the timing "appropriate"? - Dated October 2012. Another one from 2011, "...


currently, our online Electronics Engineering Technology and Computer Engineering Technology degree programs are not TAC of ABET accredited. It is our intention to apply for TAC of ABET accreditation for these two degree programs as soon as appropriate." OK, the next step here may be to find out what is an "Appropriate" time in the industry to apply. These emails do hurt you possibly if you committed only after they were issued. Because you knew that there was no accreditation and you knew that it would not be applied for until an "appropriate" time. However, if you had already enrolled, paid, and committed time before this 'new' information, based on a false statement that they were accredited, that could potentially be a basis for getting that amount back. It would also give you some reasonable basis for having continued to go to school there because you'd already invested in XX time and dollars when you learned they weren't accredited and were lead to believe (hopefully) that going forward was warranted because accreditation was imminent. If there are any other communications that would lead you to believe accreditation would SOON be applied for after you learned it wasn't accredited, that would be helpful.

Where DeVry says "future accreditation is not guaranteed" - I am presuming (hopefully not incorrectly) that this was not there when you started, only at some point after?? Most people would typically not go to a school unaccredited, if they were aware, unless they had already committed and shelled out a bunchof money. Or, if you are saying that you'd checked and determined that yes, they COULD have applied and gotten accreditation and that the time was "appropriate" to apply, as per industry standards, then you could argue that it breached its repeat promise that it was going to apply when appropriate... leading you to continue your studies there.


AlexiaEsq., Managing Attorney
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Experience: 19+ Years of Legal Practice in Consumer Protection.
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