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The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s Board of Directors approved at its March meeting last week a motion to change its Code of Ethics and Professional Practices from a mandatory code to a statement of best practices.

NACAC moved to make the change after a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust investigation, said its president, Jayne Caflin Fonash, in a note posted online Thursday and sent to members. The change still must be approved by NACAC's member delegates at its national conference in September before it takes effect. (This paragraph has been updated to note the process for the change to become final.)

“Maintaining the CEPP as a mandatory document could potentially open the association to continued investigation and penalties by the Justice Department if NACAC were found in violation of the court-ordered consent decree,” the Thursday note said. “Individual institutions also could challenge the CEPP in court if they believed that the mandatory provisions inhibited their ability to recruit students.”

NACAC delegates had already voted in September to strip provisions from the code that were under regulatory scrutiny, prompting concerns and soul-searching from members.

As a statement of best practices, the goal of the code of ethics will be to “preserve and explain the association’s core values for admission professionals” and support the best interest of students, the Thursday note continued. It also said that “most institutions and individual members continued to abide by basic principles” in the document but that some “have been pursuing more aggressive recruitment strategies.”

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