What’s the problem?
Hundreds of military and veteran students of Ashford University are in danger of losing education benefits.
How did we get here?
On May 20, 2016, Ashford leadership received a letter from the Iowa Department of Education indicating that, as a result of the University’s plan to move to digital-only course offerings and relocate to a new campus in Clinton, Iowa, the Iowa State Approving Agency (the “ISAA”) of the Iowa Department of Education (IDOE) would withdraw Ashford’s approval after June 30, 2016.
June 30 has come and gone. What's the deal?
We got Iowa to agree to an extension of up to 90 days. And we’re doing everything in our power to solve the problem by then, even as we seek a further extension.
Why is Iowa withdrawing approval?
Because the position of the ISAA is that the move to digital-only course offerings means that Ashford will no longer have a “physical campus” in Iowa, despite the 150 Ashford employees and administrators, and dozens of students, who will remain in Clinton, Iowa after June 30—until June 1, 2017 at the earliest.
Why wasn’t Ashford prepared for this?
We were. Before the May 20 announcement, we were confident that Iowa and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would honor our students’ Veteran’s education benefits.
Because before that May 20 announcement, Iowa officials had written to us that that the decision to withdraw approval “will not impact veterans or military students currently admitted to Ashford University and in receipt of VA education assistance benefits.”
Why didn’t you assume that meant “…for terms beginning before June 30”?
Because Iowa knew that we would have students on campus doing coursework—such as student teaching programs—that wouldn’t finish their degrees until months or years after June 30.
How did they know that?
We explained it at length, in a “teach-out” plan detailing how we’d help ensure a smooth transition for all our students enrolled in on-site programs by helping them finish their degrees or transfer to nearby institutions that would honor their prior coursework. That plan was reviewed and approved by Iowa nearly two years ago. ,In fact, neither the state of Iowa nor the federal Department of Veterans Affairs gave us any reason to think they were reconsidering our status as an Iowa institution before May 20. And the fact remains that after the “teach out” is completed, Iowa will continue to serve as the central educational, administrative, and technological hub of Ashford’s online educational offerings.
Is Ashford losing Veteran’s education benefits approval in Iowa some kind of punishment?
Not at all. We are exceptionally proud of our work with military and veteran students. We still participate in the Yellow Ribbon Education Enhancement Program, and we were just included in Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges 2016 list.
If Ashford is losing Veteran’s education benefits approval in Iowa, is it losing other accreditations?
No. In fact, since May 20, we’ve received confirmation from both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, that our operations in Iowa were in good standing.
Who is going to be affected by this situation?
Most obviously, the six-thousand-plus student veterans and military students enrolled at Ashford University, who could lose their funding on June 30. Beyond that, if our presence in Iowa is no longer considered a “campus”, we’ll likely have to move those resources to California too, meaning the community could lose 150 good-paying jobs.
Well, what are you going to do to resolve the situation?
We are also working with representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and ISAA/IDOE to prevent any disruption of educational benefits to our veteran students. We are also pursuing all of our legal options.
Where should we go for updates and news on the situation?