By David Halperin, By Dave Vickers and Kay Luna, 

About Bridgepoint Education

Bridgepoint Education, Inc. is a publicly traded company with its headquarters in San Diego, CA. The company operates two brands, Ashford University and University of the Rockies. While each brand has one physical campus, approximately 99 percent of Bridgepoint students attend class exclusively online. Bridgepoint notes that it enrolls students in every State. 

Through its Ashford University brand the company offers Bachelor’s and Associate degrees in business, healthcare, education, IT and social sciences.1172 Through its University of the Rockies brand the company offers Master’s and Doctoral degrees in psychology, organizational leadership, and human services. As of the end of 2011, 73.8 percent of students were enrolled in Bachelor’s programs, 13.4 percent in Associate, 11.3 percent in Master’s, and 0.9 percent in Doctoral. 

Bridgepoint Education, was formed in 2003 with the backing of Warburg Pincus, a Wall Street private equity firm. In 2005, the company purchased The Franciscan University of the Prairies in Clinton, IA. Franciscan University was a small regionally accredited non-profit college facing serious financial troubles because of low enrollment. At the time of purchase, Franciscan University enrolled 312 students. Bridgepoint acquired the Colorado School of Professional Psychology in 2007 and renamed it University of the Rockies. At the time of acquisition, the school had 75 students and did not offer any online courses or programs." Source:

Bridgepoint Education in the news...

For-Profit College At Risk Of Losing Accreditation And Access To Federal Student AidChris Kirkham, Huffington Post

Now Ashford is at risk of losing its accreditation, a scenario that would jeopardize the school's ability to tap into federal student loans and grants -- the source of more than 85 percent of its revenues. In the week since Ashford's parent company announced that a regional consortium of colleges had denied the school's bid for new accreditation, the company's stock has plummeted more than 50 percent.

The review team with the Western Association of Schools & Colleges found that Ashford was not investing enough in its academic programs, devoting significantly more resources toward new-student recruitment than educating its current students. The report found the school suffered from an "under-allocation" of faculty and staff, leaving the school unable to adequately promote student success.

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At Investor Conference, For-Profit Colleges Tout Success, Ignore Controversy

Republic Report

Bridgepoint Education’s CEO, Andrew Clark, spent most of the time bragging about software that the company has developed for students at schools owned by Bridgepoint, including Ashford University and University of the Rockies. He also touted Bridgeport’s growth in enrollment, saying that everyone would want to know, “Why has Bridgeport been doing so well in what has been a difficult time for the sector? “ 

What is Andrew Clark talking about?

Almost exactly a year ago, I attended a hearing chaired by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) that focused on Bridgepoint, which in 2005 used funding from private equity firm Warburg Pincus to buy a small Iowa religious college and transformed it into a huge, mostly online for-profit education company with 86,642 students and $933 million in revenues by 2011.  The point of the hearing was that Bridgepoint was a particularly egregious poster child for a sector that thrives by abusing students and federal taxpayers alike." 

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Ashford University denied accreditation, will appeal

Quad City Times
Ashford University has been advised by the Higher Learning Commission, under which it is currently accredited, that it has until Dec. 1 to demonstrate compliance with the commission’s “substantial presence” requirement. That means Ashford needs to demonstrate that its operations are substantially in the Higher Learning Commission’s 19-state north central region, from Arizona to West Virginia, according to a definition in the commission’s 2011 policy book. A spokesperson for the commission said more information could be released about the situation today.
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The Holiday Bowl and Their For-Profit College Sponsorship 
By Kyle McCarthy, Yahoo

Senator Tom Harkin's investigation concluded that Ashford University spent a mere $700 on instruction in 2009, compared to $2,714 on marketing per student. Public nonprofit universities are known for investing more per student for instruction, while charging less than their for-profit counterparts. The University of Iowa for instance, costs less than Ashford University and actually spends 17 times more on student instruction in comparison. While ignoring the needs of students, Bridgepoint Education has simultaneously shelled out millions on commercials, sponsorship of the popular Holiday Bowl, and CEO pay.

In addition, a Senate inquiry discovered that Ashford charges at least $46,000 for tuition and feesand has one of the highest withdrawal rates of any publicly traded school. Over a five year span,128,000 students withdrew from Ashford University. It was also found that Ashford illegally compensated recruitment officers based on enrollment numbers and that the school kept more than amillion dollars in funds owed to students that withdrew from the school. Attorneys General of North Carolina, New York, and Iowa have all since launched investigations into Bridgepoint for fraud and consumer rights violations, while the Department of Justice has launched an investigation over the school illegally compensating admissions staff members.

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