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Attorney General Bonta: Ashford University Must Pay $22 Million in Penalties for Defrauding California Students

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued the following statement after the San Diego Superior Court found in the state’s favor in its lawsuit against Ashford University, an online, for-profit school, and its parent company Zovio, Inc. (formerly Bridgepoint Education). In today’s decision, the San Diego Superior Court found that Ashford University and Zovio violated the law by giving students false or misleading information about career outcomes, cost and financial aid, pace of degree programs, and transfer credits, in order to persuade them to enroll at Ashford. As part of the decision, the court ordered Ashford University and Zovio to pay more than $22.37 million in penalties. 

“Today’s decision is a win for the many Californians whose college dreams turned into nightmares after they enrolled in Ashford University,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Ashford made false promises to students about the value of an Ashford degree, leaving students with mounting debt, broken promises, and searching for a job. While we can't turn back the clock for these students, this decision should send a strong message: If you engage in deceptive practices in order to pad your bottom line, my office will hold you accountable. We've won this battle, but the broader fight continues. The Court's findings provide a strong basis for the Department of Education to provide Ashford students with relief from their federal student loans. I urge Secretary Cardona to act swiftly to provide this relief.” 

Attorney General Bonta is committed to holding predatory actors accountable and protecting California students. Earlier this year, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a multistate settlement against Navient, one of the largest student loan servicers in the country, to resolve allegations of misconduct in the servicing and collection of federal student loans. Previously, Attorney General Bonta announced the successful resolution of litigation against the U.S. Department of Education (ED) after the Biden Administration committed to fixing the broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. Attorney General Bonta is also involved in several ongoing lawsuits against ED relating to its failure to discharge the loans of former students from for-profit and now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, its unlawful repeal and replacement of the 2016 “borrower defense” regulations, and its effort to ease oversight and accountability on for-profit colleges at the expense of students and taxpayers.

A copy of the decision can be found here.