Justice Dept. Launches Probe Into Admissions Ethics Code

The U.S. Department of Justice this week launched an investigations into whether the ethics code of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) violates federal antitrust law, Inside Higher Ed reported.

The agency sent information requests to NACAC and to admissions officers and colleges counselors who were involved with drafting the association's revised code of ethical standards, which was adopted last year. The request covers "documents discussing the inclusion, drafting, enactment, enforcement of or justifications for any section."

Two admissions officials who received letters of inquiry from the department said that the investigation pertains to a possible agreement "to restrain trade among colleges and universities in the recruitment of students."

NACAC's ethics code, known as the Statement of Principles of Good Practice, covers a wide range of issues, generally seen as encouraging ethical conduct by colleges and high schools in the admissions process. The statement encourages transparent policies and is meant to protect college applicants' interests in the increasingly competitive enrollment realm. Some of those policies, however, do limit college actions—and admissions experts fear that may be what the department is targeting, reported Inside Higher Ed.

In an email to members on Tuesday, NACAC said it "knows little about the scope and intent of the inquiry, but we are cooperating fully to provide all requested documents." The Justice Department declined to comment.


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