Skip to main content

Press Releases

Student Defense Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against Caltech, Simplilearn for Misleading Cybersecurity Bootcamp Students

July 20, 2023 

MEDIA CONTACT | 202-734-7495


Student Defense Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against Caltech, Simplilearn for Misleading Cybersecurity Bootcamp Students

The lawsuit argues Caltech falsely promoted their bootcamp as an institutional program, but failed to disclose it was entirely run by the online provider


Student Defense, along with co-counsel Altshuler Berzon LLP, filed a class action lawsuit today against the California Institute of Technology and Simplilearn Americas, Inc., a for-profit online bootcamp provider, for misleading current and former students enrolled in the school’s online cybersecurity bootcamp. The complaint alleges that Caltech and Simplilearn — as well as Fullstack, another for-profit online program provider purchased by Simplilearn in November 2022 — have misrepresented the cybersecurity bootcamp as a Caltech program even though the course is fully outsourced. 

According to the complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court, students enroll believing their courses are developed, offered, and taught by Caltech-affiliated faculty and staff, but Caltech plays no role in the course delivery. Caltech’s marketing and recruitment materials never disclose that Simplilearn runs the entire bootcamp and receives the lion’s share of tuition revenue.

“The Caltech Cybersecurity Bootcamp is entirely created and administered—from the recruitment, application and admissions process, through the courses, to career guidance—by Simplilearn,” the complaint alleges. “The Caltech Cybersecurity Bootcamp is a Caltech program in name only.”

“Students enroll in Caltech’s Cybersecurity Bootcamp believing they’re going to be educated by Caltech, but that’s simply not the case,” said Student Defense Litigation Director Eric Rothschild. “Students deserve transparency and accountability when making decisions about their educational futures. We look forward to delivering relief for those who were affected by Caltech and Simplilearn’s deceptive practices.”

“Students should be able to trust the Caltech name,” said Eve Cervantez, Altshuler Berzon attorney. “And California law requires that their advertisements be truthful.”

The lawsuit comes at a time when Congress is considering extending eligibility for Pell Grants to short-term programs, including those like Simplilearn’s cybersecurity bootcamps.

"When I enrolled in the Caltech Cybersecurity Bootcamp, I really thought I was receiving a prestigious education. I believed in Caltech’s promise that this program would help me start a new career in cybersecurity without having had previous experience in this field," said Elva Lopez, the named plaintiff in the case. "I felt blindsided when I learned this program had nothing to do with Caltech other than the school’s brand being used to market the program. My fellow classmates and I were deceived, and I don’t want any other students to end up in this situation."  

The Department of Education is also considering policy guidance revisions related to a 2011 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter. The 2011 guidance exempts third-party program providers that bundle recruitment and other services from the Higher Education Act’s ban on incentive-based compensation.  

The lawsuit seeks actual and punitive damages for the named plaintiff and all similarly situated students, along with an injunction to prevent Caltech and Simplilearn from continuing to deceive students. A full copy of the complaint can be found here.

If you are a Caltech or Simplilearn student, or are interested in more information about this lawsuit, please contact us here and let us know about your experience.