Senate Committee to Examine For-Profit Education Company

A Senate committee will hold a hearing March 10 to examine Bridgepoint Education Inc. (BPI), part of the for-profit college industry under federal scrutiny for its recruiting practices and use of government funds.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will use Bridgepoint as a "case study," Senator Tom Harkin, the committee chairman and a Democrat from Iowa, said in a statement today.

Harkin wants the company, based in San Diego, to explain its $135 million increase in profit, as its loan default rates rose and more than 60 percent of students who enrolled in the bachelor’s program between 2008 and 2009 withdrew by the summer of 2010, he said in the statement.

"Bridgepoint Education’s growth in both enrollment and profits — even as their rates of student withdrawals and loan defaults climb — exemplifies the issues in the for-profit education industry," Harkin said. "Using Bridgepoint as a case study will help us better understand how the practices of for-profit colleges impact their student’s chances for success."

Andrew S. Clark, the company’s chief executive officer, has been invited to testify, according to the statement. Bridgepoint received correspondence from the committee on March 1 and is reviewing the request, said Marianne Perez, a spokeswoman for the company.

Bridgepoint fell 56 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $19.16 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.


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