"Bridgepoint Education will likely not exist this time next year," wrote research analyst Duane Bair in an October 23 essay for Seeking Alpha. "The same circumstances that bankrupted peers could result in the demise of Bridgepoint."
The bankruptcy of Corinthian Colleges awakened Americans to how corrupt many of these for-profit schools are.
Bridgepoint has hired "an army of prominent lobbyists," but it could still be cut off from the Department of Education and GI Bill funding that provide most of its income, says Bair. Since 2011, attendance at Ashford University, its main institution, has plunged 44 percent.
"The [Securities and Exchange Commission] has opened a formal inquiry into Bridgepoint and the Department of Education has started pulling funds from sub-par accrediting agencies," says Bair.
Getting federal funding is a problem. Ashford closed its tiny Iowa campus (an actual campus, not online, which constitutes more than 90 percent of courses). Bridgepoint dropped its attempt to get GI Bill funding through California. A legal proceeding in Iowa has been stayed, but only short-term.
"Once the stay is lifted and the case resolved, Ashford will likely lose access to GI Bill funding," writes Bair. The GI Bill accounts for 19.1 percent of its funding. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found last month that Bridgepoint had committed "illegal student lending practices." The agency said Bridgepoint knowingly instructed staff to lie to current and potential students.
Unless Bridgepoint pulls off a "miraculous win" in the Iowa court case, it will lose GI Bill funding and will not comply with a federal mandate on the percentage of its funds coming from the government. "At that point, it is a mere inevitability that the school will be shuttered," says Bair.