Last week the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, heard testimony about Ashford University, a for-profit college owned by Bridgeport Education, with an associate degree program drop-out rate of 84%.
Using data from federal filings and documents provided by Bridgepoint, Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who is chairman of the committee, described an institution that gets 86 percent of its revenues directly from the federal government, but sees the vast majority of its students drop out, burdened with student-loan debt. Bridgepoint employs 1,703 recruiters, the senator said, but only one employee is charged with job placement.
The amount spent on instruction per student has plummeted from above $5,000 before Bridgepoint bought Asford, to about $700 a student — about a tenth as much as at Iowa State. According to Mr. Harkin, for each Bridgepoint student, $2,700 went to recruiting and $1,500 to profits. Its chief executive, Andrew Clark, earned $20.5 million in 2009.
“From a strictly money-making perspective, this is a highly successful model,” Mr. Harkin said. “But from an educational perspective, from the perspective of public money and an ethical perspective, I think it’s a highly disturbing model.”
Read the New Tork Times article on the hearing.