Ashford University Sued for Defrauding and Deceiving Students But Bridgepoint Education Proud of School

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra yesterday announced that he is suing Ashford University, an online for-profit school based in San Diego, and its parent company Bridgepoint Education for engaging in unlawful business practices.

In the lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra alleges that Ashford made false promises and furnished faulty information to students to persuade them to enroll. It also used illegal debt collection practices when students struggled to pay their bills. Attorney General Becerra seeks restitution for students, a permanent injunction prohibiting similar activities in the future, and civil penalties from Ashford University.

“No school should ever steal the American Dream from its students, but that is exactly what Ashford University did,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Ashford University preyed on veterans and people of modest means. This for-profit college illegally misled students about their educational prospects and unfairly saddled them with debt. In today’s economy, college is too pivotal and precious to let a predatory for-profit company swindle our daughters and sons out of the higher education they’ll need to get ahead.”

In 2005, Bridgepoint Education bought a tiny non-profit Catholic university in Iowa named Franciscan University of the Prairies. Bridgepoint cut the school’s ties with the Catholic Church, rebranded it as Ashford University, and exploited the school’s access to federal education funds to build an online empire with over 80,000 students by 2012. Ashford University proceeded to close the original Franciscan University’s brick and mortar campus in Iowa in 2016.

Attorney General Becerra alleges that Ashford accomplished its massive growth with an army of “Admissions Counselors” who were really salespeople working in toxic boiler-room conditions. The complaint alleges that Ashford’s administration subjected these “Admissions Counselors” to extreme pressure to meet enrollment targets and that it verbally and psychologically abused them when they fell short.

The complaint further alleges that:

  • Ashford’s salespeople made a wide variety of false and misleading statements to prospective students to meet their enrollment growth targets, including how much financial aid students would get, how many prior academic credits would transfer into the school, and the school’s ability to prepare students for careers in fields like social work, nursing, medical billing, and teaching;
  • For-profit Ashford misled investors and the public in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission by inflating the percentage of working alumni who reported that their Ashford degree prepared them for their current job;
  • Because of Ashford’s misrepresentations, Ashford’s students, many of them low-income, were often saddled with unexpected tuition expenses and other debts they could not afford. To collect that money, Ashford engaged in aggressive and illegal practices such as threatening and imposing unlawful debt collection fees.

Bridgepoint Education responded to the suit by saying, “Bridgepoint’s institutions serve as a model for how online education can better the lives of people who did not, or who were unable to, pursue more traditional avenues to degrees. Thousands upon thousands of our current students and graduates can attest to the educational value provided by our undergraduate and graduate programs that have bettered their lives. We are extraordinarily proud of our well-deserved and hard-earned reputation for improving the lives of thousands of students by providing a high-quality education that serves communities and gives families the opportunity to succeed.” – Source

Steve Rhode
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6 thoughts on “Ashford University Sued for Defrauding and Deceiving Students But Bridgepoint Education Proud of School”

  1. Please, folks. Once again, if you want to pursue higher education, your local community college is you best bet. Do not be sucked in by a for-profit, online-only or -mostly institution. It matters where you went to school. No one, especially those hiring, have respect for an institution like Ashford University. Your degree will be worthless, especially in terms of securing a good job. In contrast, you will actually learn something at your local, state-supported community college. They have the respect for-profit, online institutions lack. In addition, if you want to complete a 4-year degree, it’s easily possible to transfer to a 4-year state school. Your taxdollars are already paying for state schools. Why not take advantage of them? You will be far better off than if you waste your money on a for-profit school. Do your research and get smarter so you will make better choices and not end up with a worthless degree you can’t afford. P.S. I can tell how poorly you were served by Ashford University based on how pooly you write.

  2. I am being victimized now by Ashford University student accounts they have fraudulently misused my federal funds fully crediting my account and saying I had a zero balance they even issued me a stipend
    NOW one day after my final class aft 5 years of my total commitment they say they returned federal funds deposited LAST YEAR and that I can’t get my double degrees a double major unless a huge balance is paid

    This is the most complete evident student right violation I could ever think of

    • I had the same issue but it occurred 2 years after I graduated and needed my transcripts for my master’s degree. I had already attended law school so I reached out to them and they forwarded me my transcripts. I’m saddled with 70k in debt but I did graduate with honors and the program was rigorous although it’s not a degree that translates into a career. I blame myself for that although the school was extremely deceptive in what they claimed I could do with that degree.

    • Wow!! The same thing happened to me. After 5 years of attending Ashford University I was able to receive my bachelors degree. Which half was already completed at my local University where I reside. After completing my bachelor degree I was “victimized” into their Master program. I was one class away from finishing my masters program. I was at the tail end of my second to last class when my instructor failed me for turning in my final 12 hours late. I had communicated my situation, which was the death of my dearest friend. I was a high ‘B’ status at that point. Once she failed me the school kicked me out. I had a debt of 4000.00 prior to the failed class. I appealed the grade and three months later received a B. I then had to appeal the school kicking me out. They waited for 9 months to tell me that I was accepted back into the school. After trying to register for my last class, they told me my student loan was cancelled due to non attendance for one year and that I would have to pay cash to re-enter. This means I would have to come up with $4000.0 that I owed them plus another 2500.00 for the class. So, one class away and I was never able to graduate. I have a 100,000 debt and no master degree. This is amazing. Cant we do something about this. Please reach out to me and let’s get something done. I’m 55 years old and can’t even use the degree to find a job. It’s amazing that I have a student loan of 100,000 and can’t even find a job. ‘Talk about violation. ‘Right?


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