Our University has an unwavering commitment to serve our military and veteran students by providing them with affordable, accessible, high-quality educational opportunities - it is at the heart of Ashford University’s educational mission. We’re proud of the environment we’ve created to meet the unique needs of non-traditional students, including active duty military students, reservists, and their families, as well as student veterans who are continuing their education after retiring from military service.
Recent news articles and statements from various sources have created some confusion for our military and veteran student communities and related stakeholders who care about these students. This site will give you the facts. We are working hard to ensure that those who have sacrificed to serve our country are not penalized by having their educational goals unfairly disrupted or unnecessarily placed on hold.
What’s going on with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)?
To allow military and veteran students to use their federal education benefits, colleges and universities need to be approved through a state approving agency. While this requirement is straightforward for physical universities with a main campus in one location who serve students geographically located around that main campus, it complicates things for online schools like Ashford University that offer a unique, globally-available university experience.
In September 2017, Ashford University received approval to offer VA education benefits from the Arizona State Approving Agency (Arizona SAA), which was then accepted by the VA. However, on November 9, 2017, the VA changed its mind, and told Ashford University that the Arizona SAA had not provided sufficient evidence to establish that it has jurisdictional authority over Ashford’s online programs.
Ashford fights for our student veterans, service members and their families
On November 17 Ashford filed a petition in Federal Court against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the following reasons:
- Ashford University strongly disagrees with the VA’s interpretation of the relevant regulations.
- There is a general consensus that current VA regulations are outdated. They were written during the “brick and mortar” era of higher education, and did not anticipate the emergence of online institutions such as Ashford, where students, faculty, and facilities are geographically distributed and virtual.
- Congress has been clear that authority to oversee and approve educational programs is delegated to state officials, and that the VA is prohibited from interfering with that authority.
- In approving Ashford, Arizona took all appropriate actions, followed correct procedures, and acted within the authority clearly delegated to the states by Congress. But the VA inappropriately infringed on the State of Arizona’s authority to administer approval of veterans’ education benefits. This is an unprecedented federal encroachment that stands in stark opposition to the decades-long legacy of federalism in the GI Bill.
- The VA has never said that Ashford has violated the statutes or regulations governing veterans’ education benefits. In fact, Ashford has always been in full compliance with all substantive VA requirements, as shown by its uniformly favorable compliance surveys, and the VA has never contended otherwise.
To be clear, this matter has nothing to do with the academic quality of our programs—which are not in question—or the value of what Ashford provides to our military and veteran students. We have a dedicated and specialized support staff, made up of many former service members, focused on assisting our veteran students with their unique educational needs. We pride ourselves on helping these brave men and women make the most of the present while planning for their futures.
In fact, more than 5,000 veterans, military service members, students, and supporters signed a recent online petition urging the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to allow veterans to choose Ashford University for their education.
What about my military Tuition Assistance benefits (TA benefits?)
Ashford University is approved to offer VA education benefits through the Arizona State Approving Agency (Arizona SAA). Because we are eligible to offer VA benefits, Ashford students are eligible for Tuition Assistance (TA) benefits.
A recent letter from the Department of Defense (DoD) may have caused confusion around this issue. In accordance with the DoD Memorandum of Understanding, educational institutions must be approved to offer VA education benefits to also be approved to offer TA funding for enrolled students. The University maintains regular communication with DoD Voluntary Education, keeping them informed of Ashford’s status and ongoing efforts to ensure continuation of benefits for our students.
Student Communication Summary: Read the latest updates and alerts we’ve shared with our military and VA students.