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Bridgepoint Education shares plunge after update on Ashford University accreditation

Bridgepoint Education shares plunge after update on Ashford University accreditation

Bridgepoint Education (NYSE:BPI) reported Friday that it received notification that the board of trustees of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (HLC) met on July 11 to ensure that its Ashford University meets the commission's criteria for accreditation.

The announcement caused Bridgepoint shares to plummet 24.83 per cent to $9.75 Friday afternoon.

Ashford University is currently accredited by the HLC through 2014 to 2015, at which time it will participate in another evaluation to maintain its accreditation.

The HLC region includes 19 states from Arizona to West Virginia, including Iowa, where Ashford University's residential campus is based.

Bridgepoint said earlier this month that it is in danger of losing its accreditation with HLC, as it was advised that it has until December 1 to show compliance with HLC's "substantial presence" requirement.

The HLC board is requiring Ashford to provide a report by August 10, to make sure the institution is satisfying the accreditation requirements. The university is also required to host an advisory visit within 60 days of the commission’s receipt of the report.

At the meeting scheduled for February 2013, the HLC board will review the report of the advisory visit and Ashford’s response to those documents.

Bridgepoint also received notice last week that its Ashford University application was denied for initial accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

WASC is one of seven regional accrediting commissions that holds jurisdiction over schools located in the states of California and Hawaii, as well as the U.S. Pacific Islands. The institution initiated application for WASC accreditation after the migration of a substantial portion of its activities, in support of its online programs, into WASC’s geographic region.

"We are accredited, and will continue our critical service to our non-traditional students, largely comprised of working adults and underserved populations," said Ashford’s president and CEO, Dr. Elizabeth Tice.

"We are fully committed to providing the opportunity for a brighter future to the more than 90,000 students currently attending Ashford University in pursuit of a higher education."

Accreditation for an educational institution is important since without it, a school can lose its access to federal financial aid, which can encompass as much as 90 per cent of a for-profit schools' revenue.

Bridgepoint Education is a provider of postsecondary education services, with Ashford University and University of the Rockies.

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