FTC Seeks Comments on Proposed Revisions to Guides for Private Vocational Schools - 16 CFR 254

For Your Information

As part of its ongoing periodic review of its rules and guides, the Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment about whether to amend its Guides for Private Vocational Schools to add a provision to prohibit deceptive claims about future employment or job placement success. Comments must be filed with the Commission by June 23, 1997.

The Guides for Private Vocational Schools, which have been in effect since August 1972, provide guidance about acceptable or unacceptable claims in advertisements or promotional materials for resident or correspondence courses or training or instruction programs by private career or vocational schools. Specifically, the guides pertain to claims about the nature of the school, its accreditation, methods of teaching, affiliation with other agencies or institutions, and available financial assistance.

In April, 1996, the FTC requested public comments about the overall costs and benefits of the guides and their regulatory and economic impact. Comments received at that time indicated broad support for retaining the Guides. Based upon those comments and its own independent assessment of the need for the Guides, the Commission has preliminarily determined to retain the Guides.

In a Federal Register Notice published today, the FTC is soliciting public comment regarding its proposal to amend the Guides to add a provision addressing misrepresentations about a school’s placement success following training. Currently, the Guides address claims about placement assistance offered to graduates of a school. They do not, however, address false or deceptive claims about the availability of employment after graduation from a course of training or the success that a school’s graduates have realized in obtaining employment related to the training. The Commission believes that such claims are important to prospective students of vocational training and are likely to become even more important in the future.

The Commission seeks public comment on the following questions:

  • should the guides be amended to prohibit misrepresentations about the availability of employment after graduation from a course of training, or the success of graduates in obtaining such employment?
  • are there currently problems in the vocational schools industry with this type of claim?
  • are there other issues, relevant to a prospective student’s decision to enroll in a vocational school or course of training, that are not already covered by the Guides but should be addressed?

The Commission vote to publish the Guides for a public comment period was 5-0. Comments should be addressed to: Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room 159, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Comments on the Vocational Schools Guides should be identified as "16 CFR Part 254 -- Comment."

Copies of the federal register notice are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.

(FTC File No. S039 546)

Contact Information

Media Contact:
Claudia Bourne Farrell, Office of Public Affairs
Staff Contact:
Carol Jennings or Joe Koman
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3010 or 202-326-3014