The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division today filed a civil lawsuit against the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) alleging that NACAC established and enforced illegal restraints on the ways that colleges compete in the recruiting of students. The Antitrust Division simultaneously filed a proposed consent decree with NACAC. Under the decree, NACAC is required to remove three anticompetitive rules from its Code of Ethics and Professional Practices (CEPP), which broadly regulates how its college members conduct their admissions process. In advance of today’s court filings, and in response to the Antitrust Division’s investigation, NACAC members voted to remove the rules at their Annual Meeting in September.
“While trade associations and standards-setting organizations can and often do promote rules and standards that benefit the market as a whole, they cannot do so at the cost of competition,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Today’s settlement is a victory for all college applicants and students across the United States who will benefit from vigorous competition among colleges for their enrollment.”
Under its proposed consent decree with the Justice Department, NACAC has agreed to remove rules regarding recruitment of (1) transfer students from other schools; (2) prospective incoming freshmen after May 1; and (3) prospective Early Decision applicants. NACAC is further restrained from establishing or enforcing any similar rule in the future, and has agreed to increase its antitrust compliance training with employees and members. If approved by the court, the consent decree will resolve the Antitrust Division’s competitive concerns.
NACAC is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. NACAC is the leading trade association related to the college admissions process. Its members include primarily non-profit colleges and universities and their admissions staff, as well as high schools and their counselors.
As required by the Tunney Act, the proposed consent decree, along with the Department’s competitive impact statement, will be published in the Federal Register. Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed settlement within 60 days of its publication to Aaron Hoag, Chief, Technology and Financial Services Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 7100, Washington, D.C. 20530. At the conclusion of the 60-day comment period, the court may enter the final judgment upon a finding that it serves the public interest.