NAICU Washington Update

Justice Department Reaches Proposed Antitrust Settlement with Admissions Group

December 13, 2019

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it has reached an agreement with the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) to resolve a two-year antitrust investigation of the group’s code of ethics. 

The DOJ investigation focused on several provisions in NACAC’s code of ethics that DOJ alleges to be an unlawful restriction on competition in violation of federal antitrust laws. Under the terms of a proposed consent decree, NACAC has agreed to delete these provisions from its code of ethics and refrain from establishing or enforcing similar conditions in the future. The relevant provisions would have:
  • Precluded institutions from providing exclusive incentives to early decision applicants;
  • Barred the recruitment of students who have committed to another college unless the students initiate an inquiry; and
  • Prohibited the recruitment of transfer students unless the students initiate contact.
In anticipation of reaching a settlement with DOJ, NACAC voted in September to eliminate the relevant sections from its code of ethics. Despite this vote, DOJ pursued a lawsuit, and NACAC agreed to enter into a consent decree in order to avoid lengthy and costly litigation.

Under procedural rules that govern such agreements, the proposed consent decree will be published in the Federal Register for public comments. After the comment period closes, a court is expected to enter a final judgment approving the consent decree.

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