The California attorney general sued a for-profit education provider Wednesday for “preying on” student veterans.
Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, sued Ashford University, a for-profit higher education chain, as well as its owner Bridgepoint Education, for illegal sales, marketing, and debt collection procedures, reported The Washington Post.
“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,” Becerra said in a statement obtained by WaPo. “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.”
The attorney general alleges that Ashford deceived prospective students about tuition costs, loan and grant eligibility, as well as the disbursement of financial aid. The university reportedly pressured its admissions office to increase enrollment and knew that counselors were deceiving students.
By its own count, Ashford reviewed fewer than one in 20 of counselor phone calls. The university recorded one counselor having committed 25 violations of its rules, but received no penalty except a written warning.
“We look forward to sharing the facts and success stories of our students and our school, because we’re proud of our work and confident that we’ll be fully vindicated,” Anna Davison, Bridgepoint’s vice president for investor relations, told WaPo. “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.”
Bridgepoint consented in 2016 to pay more than $24 million in debt students racked up via an in-house loan initiative after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleged that the for-profit company misrepresented loan costs. Ashford University put a temporary halt on veteran enrollment via the GI Bill earlier in November upon receiving notice from the Department of Veteran Affairs that it could have its funds slashed. The school is responsible for the online education of more than 40,000 students.
Ashford’s reviews on various sites typically range in the three to four star range. The school has an average rating of 3.7 out of five stars, with more than 600 reviews on GradReports.com and 6.7 out of 10 stars with more than 500 reviews on OnlineDegreeReviews.org. One GradReports.com reviewer lauded the helpfulness and availability of the Ashford’s teachers; another student on ConsumerAffairs.com complained that the school does not accept loans from various loan agencies and banks.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to the Department of Education for comment, but received none in time for press.
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