Britt v. Florida Career College

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Overview

Who Is Involved In This Case?

Mr. Britt and Ms. Laurance brought this lawsuit in April 2020, on behalf of themselves and a class of current and former students against Florida Career College (FCC). FCC is a for-profit college chain that operates multiple campuses in Florida and Texas.

 

What Is This Case About?

The Florida Career College business model is simple. It uses high-pressure tactics and false statements to induce students to enroll in career-training programs.  These students are forced to borrow thousands of dollars in federal student loans to pay FCC’s inflated tuition.  FCC profits off this tuition money. Instead of investing in students’ education, it lines its own pockets and invests primarily in recruitment and advertising in order to scam more people. FCC targets students based on race, focusing its predatory marketing and deceptive recruitment practices on Black students, exacerbating the racial wealth gap.

FCC targets Black students for its high-priced, low-value product in many ways, including:

  • Using Black models in many of its advertisements;
  • Targeting students on Facebook and Instagram, where advertisers can target based on interest in “African Americans” and/or “African-American Culture”;
  • Advertising on radio stations with predominantly Black audiences;
  • Advertising on certain public buses, bus benches, and bus stops; and
  • Conducting outreach at local high schools with a high percentage of Black students.

Because of these tactics, as of Fall 2018, every FCC campus had a larger percentage of Black students than the population of the city where it is located. For example, FCC in Hialeah has 55% Black student enrollment, even though the city’s Black population is just 2.5%. FCC in Margate has 70% Black student enrollment; Margate itself has a 28.6% Black population.

 

Where Was This Case Filed?

The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

 

When Was This Case Filed?

This case was filed on Monday, April 20, 2020.

Why This Case?

FCC peddles a predatory product to Black students, and does not provide the career training it promises. It leaves students in mountains of debt with no ability to pay it back. Only one of seventeen FCC programs led to gainful employment under the federal measure. The median annual earnings of students who were able to graduate and find employment in those seventeen programs were between $8,983 and $32,872.

FCC management trained recruiters to tell students that programs are full, even when they are not, in order to push students into programs that start earlier so FCC gets their student loan money sooner. Recruiters tout FCC’s ability to provide students with stable, lucrative careers, when in fact, all it provides is debt. Recruiters unscrupulously create an inaccurate image of the school regarding the students’ experiences and how the school improves students’ lives.

“Florida Career College was a scam and a total waste of time and money. Their ads made me think that the HVAC program would give me a good career, but like everything else they told me, it was a lie. They didn’t teach even basics, and they didn’t care. Almost all of my classmates were minorities and many barely even had high school level reading skills. Their business is all about taking advantage of people who are just trying to better their lives. It’s not right and they shouldn’t be able to get away with it."

Former FCC student Kareem Britt

"FCC talked up how the school would give you a career, not just a job, and they convinced me that the medical assisting program was the only way to get to the next level. But then I realized I was just a number to them. They didn't even try to hide it. Students got pulled out of classes all the time to talk about financial aid and they would pressure you to sign confusing papers on the spot. It made me sick to my stomach. I just want to make sure others aren't duped into this scam like I was."

Former FCC student Monique Laurence

“We can’t allow FCC to continue its predatory practices against individuals who were already facing significant economic hardship, especially during a time of such severe social and financial dislocation.”

Adam Schachter, Gelber Schachter & Greenberg

“For-profit colleges, that prey on particularly vulnerable student populations by promising a better life meanwhile sticking them with outsized debt, no real chance for employment, and ultimately financial failure, are the epitome of predators that need to be brought to justice particularly in times of economic uncertainty, such as these.”

Zach Bower, Carella Byrne Cecchi Olstein Brody & Agnello P.C.

“For-profit colleges have a long history of perpetuating racial and economic injustices. FCC targeted Black students with a predatory product using the for-profit college playbook of lies and high-pressure recruitment, and left them in debt they could never repay. Race-conscious recruitment can be a tool to provide opportunity and promote diversity. But FCC’s racial targeting for predatory products is discrimination and violates the law. We must hold FCC accountable for its discriminatory tactics.”

Toby Merrill, Project on Predatory Student Lending

Case Documents

Complaint

On April 20, 2020, plaintiffs filed a class action complaint against Florida Career College.