UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BEFORE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
In the Matter of
THE NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER FOR
COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS, INC.,
AMERICAN STUDENT LIST, LLC,
DON M. MUNCE,
individually and as an officer of
THE NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER FOR COLLEGE AND
UNIVERSITY ADMISSIONS, INC.
- DOCKET NO. C-4071
The Federal Trade Commission, having reason
to believe that The National Research Center for College and University
Admissions, Inc. and American Student List, LLC, corporations, and Don M.
Munce, individually and as an officer of The National Research Center for
College and University Admissions, Inc. ("Respondents"), have violated the
provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act, and it appearing to the
Commission that this proceeding is in the public interest, alleges:
1. Respondent The National Research Center
for College and University Admissions, Inc. ("NRCCUA") is a Missouri
corporation with its principal office or place of business at 900 SW
Oldham Parkway, Lees Summit, Missouri 64081.
2. Respondent Don M. Munce is an officer
and director of NRCCUA. Individually or in concert with others, he
formulates, directs, controls, or participates in the policies, acts, or
practices of NRCCUA, including the acts or practices alleged in this
Complaint. His principal office or place of business is the same as that
3. Respondent American Student List, LLC ("ASL")
is a New York limited liability company with its principal office or place
of business at 330 Old Country Road, Mineola, New York 11501.
4. The acts and practices of Respondents
alleged in this Complaint have been in or affecting commerce, as
"commerce" is defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
5. Since at least 1988, Respondents have
collected personal information from high school students through a survey
(the "Survey"). Respondents market and distribute the Survey to high
school teachers and guidance counselors with the request that they have
their students complete the Survey. Students may also complete the Survey
online at NRCCUA's Web site, www.nrccua.org. Last year, Respondents
collected personal information from more than 2 million high school
students who completed the Survey.
6. The Survey collects from high school
students personal information, including, but not limited to, name,
address, gender, grade point average, date of birth, academic and
occupational interests, athletic and extracurricular interests, racial or
ethnic background, and religious affiliation (the "Survey Data").
7. Respondents create, market, and
distribute the Survey, and compile and use Survey Data. Respondents NRCCUA
and ASL each pay a substantial portion of the cost to produce and
distribute the Survey.
8. Survey Data is used by Respondents.
Respondent NRCCUA markets Survey Data primarily to colleges and
universities, which use the information to target high school students for
recruitment purposes. Respondent ASL uses Survey Data to create lists of
college-bound students that it sells to commercial entities for use in
marketing. Such entities include, but are not limited to, consumer
products manufacturers, credit card companies, direct marketers, list
brokers, database marketing companies, and advertising agencies.
9. Respondents have disseminated or caused
to be disseminated marketing materials and privacy statements, including
but not limited to the attached Exhibits A through D. These marketing
materials and privacy statements contain the following statements
regarding the use and disclosure of personal information collected through
- A. "As you know, NRCCUA is a membership
organization that represents over 850 colleges and universities. These
universities use the NRCCUA survey to contact your students, whose
interests and abilities match the institution's offerings. Your priority
is to help your students succeed, and this survey is one more way you
can boost your students' chances.
- By completing this survey now, your
students will receive the information they need to help them make an
informed college choice." (Exhibit A, cover letter to educators
- B. "This data is used by colleges,
universities and other organizations to assist students and their
families by providing them with valuable information. The National
Research Center for College and University Admissions advocates
responsible and secure use of the information obtained voluntarily
through this survey." (Exhibit B, privacy statement found on the
- C. "Use of this survey data is
authorized by the National Research Center for College and University
Admissions for the purposes of research and dissemination of college and
career information, and other information helpful to students and their
families in the transition from high school to college." (Exhibit C,
privacy statement found on the NRCCUA Web site).
- D. "The National Research Center for
College and University Admissions builds educational bridges by
providing a communications link between high schools, college-bound high
school students, and our member colleges and universities. NRCCUA is a
non-profit organization serving the needs of each.
- Since 1972 our mission has been to make
the important process of selecting a college education or career path
easier for students. Our annual surveys enable more than 4 million high
school students to indicate their unique college and career preferences
to over 1000 member colleges and universities." (Exhibit D, NRCCUA Web
site home page).
10. Respondents have disseminated or caused
to be disseminated marketing materials that accompany the Survey,
including but not limited to the attached Exhibits E through G. These
marketing materials contain the following statements regarding the funding
of the Survey:
- A. "Assisting educators and their
students with the college selection process has been our mission for
over 25 years. As a result of completing the survey last year, over 2
million students from 24,000 high schools are receiving information that
will be invaluable to them as they plan for the future. With your
assistance, this year's effort will be even more significant.
- This service is provided at no
cost to you or your students! It is completely funded by our
members, 850 colleges and universities who include most of the top
national and regional colleges and universities as ranked by U.S.
News & World Report. " (Exhibit E, cover letter to educators
accompanying Survey) (emphasis in original).
- B. "Please read the brief instructions,
and pass out the enclosed surveys to the sophomore, junior and
freshmen students in all of your classes. Your students will receive
valuable information on admissions, financial planning, scholarships,
and other relevant information to help them plan intelligently for their
future. All of this is free to your students because it is funded
by our member educational institutions." (Exhibit F, cover letter to
educators accompanying Survey) (emphasis in original).
C. "These survey results are provided at no cost to participating high
schools, NRCCUA is funded by its member colleges and universities for
the purpose of distributing helpful educationally-related literature to
students." (Exhibit G, report to educators).
11. Through the means described in
Paragraphs 9 - 10, Respondents have represented, expressly or by
- A. Information collected from high
school students through the Survey is shared only with colleges,
universities, and other entities providing education-related services.
- B. The Survey is funded solely by
12. In truth and in fact:
- A. Information collected from high
school students through the Survey is shared not only with colleges,
universities, and other entities providing education-related services,
but also with commercial entities for marketing purposes.
- B. The survey is not funded solely by
educational institutions, but also receives substantial funding from ASL
and others for commercial purposes.
Therefore, the representations set forth in
Paragraph 11 were, and are, false or misleading.
13. The acts and practices of Respondents
as alleged in this Complaint constitute unfair or deceptive acts or
practices, in or affecting commerce, in violation of Section 5(a) of the
Federal Trade Commission Act.
THEREFORE, the Federal Trade Commission
this twenty-eighth day of January, 2003, has issued this Complaint against
By the Commission.
Donald S. Clark