SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego-based for-profit college Ashford University is being sued by California's attorney general for allegedly making "false promises and furnished faulty information to students to persuade them to enroll."
State AG Xavier Becerra filed the lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court against the university and its parent company Bridgepoint Education on Wednesday. Becerra's suit accuses both of illegal business practices, which included fraud against students and illegal debt collection practices.
Becerra said, "No school should ever steal the American Dream from its students, but that is exactly what Ashford University did. 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."
-- 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
Current and former Ashford University students and others who may have been harmed by Ashford's misconduct who wish to file a complaint may contact the Attorney General's Office at (800) 952-5225 or http://oag.ca.gov/report .
Bridgepoint Education Vice President of Corporate Communications & Investor Relations Anna Davison issued the following statement in response to the state's lawsuit:
"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.
We intend to vigorously defend this case. 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."