Misled Consumers About High School ‘Diploma’ Course
Stratford Career Institute has agreed to stop making allegedly deceptive claims about educational programs under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The settlement resolves FTC charges brought in February 2016, alleging that the correspondence school misled consumers about its high school “diploma” program, which failed to meet the basic requirements set by most states. Consumer complaints and Stratford’s records showed that consumers who tried to use the company’s diplomas were often told by prospective employers and college admissions officers that the program was not equivalent to a traditional high school diploma.
Under the stipulated order, Stratford is prohibited from making false claims about educational programs and, when marketing high school equivalency programs, it is required to disclose that some schools and employers may not recognize the diploma or equivalency credential.
The order also requires Stratford to notify current students of their right to cancel enrollment in the high school diploma program, and to stop efforts to collect money from those who cancel.
The settlement imposes a $6.5 million judgment that will be partially suspended when the company has paid $250,000. The full judgment will become due immediately if Stratford is found to have misrepresented its financial condition. For more information, consumers should visit ftc.gov/stratford.
The Commission vote approving the stipulated final order was 3-0. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio entered the order on January 31, 2017.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.