November 16, 2017
The action by the online for-profit university, which is owned by Bridgepoint Education, is the latest development in a long-running dispute between Ashford, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a state regulator.
Last year Iowa’s state approval agency moved to strip the university’s GI Bill eligibility, citing a previous decision by Ashford to close its physical location in the state. Ashford sued to block the decision, and that lawsuit remains active. However, the university subsequently secured approval from Arizona regulators to shift its state-based eligibility for veterans’ benefits from Iowa to that state. The federal VA in September backed the approval by the Arizona state agency.
Then, last week, the VA changed course and told Ashford that the Arizona agency had not provided sufficient evidence that it has jurisdictional approval over Ashford’s online programs. The VA said that in 60 days it would suspend Ashford’s GI Bill eligibility and approval of new student enrollments and re-enrollments unless “corrective action” is taken by the university.
While Ashford said in a corporate filing that it strongly disagrees with the VA’s moves, the for-profit decided to voluntarily drop new enrollments of veterans. Veteran students account for roughly 10 percent of Ashford’s total enrollment, the university said, and 7 percent of its revenue.