California is suing for-profit Ashford University and its parent company, San Diego-based Bridgepoint Education, alleging false promises to persuade students to enroll in the online school.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the lawsuit during a Nov. 30 news conference. The complaint alleges that Ashford’s sales staff made false claims regarding how much financial aid students would receive and the school’s ability to prepare students for careers in fields like social work, nursing, medical billing and teaching.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges Ashford misled investors and the public in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by inflating the percent of working alumni who reported that their Ashford degree prepared them for their current job.
In a statement, Bridgepoint said it intends to vigorously defend the case.
“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.”
The statement adds: “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 vindicated.”
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, seeks civil penalties and to prevent Ashford from engaging in “similar activities in the future.”
Becerra said he obtained $51 million in debt relief for students of Corinthian College, a now-defunct, for-profit school that was based in Santa Ana.