Originally published for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Ashford University on Tuesday suspended enrollment of students using GI Bill benefits, according to a corporate disclosure filed on Wednesday. The for-profit institution, based in San Diego, made the decision days after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notified Ashford that it is not in compliance with federal standards.
A Chronicle investigation found that Ashford had established another headquarters in Arizona, where the for-profit’s eligibility for GI Bill funds would be approved more quickly by the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services than by California’s regulators. The second headquarters, in Phoenix, was “roughly the size of a Chipotle restaurant,” The Chronicle reported.
The federal agency notified Ashford that it was out of compliance because Arizona regulators didn’t have “jurisdictional authority” to approve the institution’s online classes. Ashford now has 60 days to receive proper approval from California regulators or the VA will suspend payments to Ashford. The Department of Veterans Affairs contacted Ashford a day after a Chronicle reporter asked the agency about the legality of Ashford’s receipt of GI Bill payments.
Ashford said in its Wednesday disclosure that 10 percent of its overall enrollment consists of veterans, who generate 7 percent of its overall revenue. The university said the decision to suspend enrollment for GI Bill students “will not have a material impact on our results for the remainder of the year.” Ashford’s parent company, Bridgepoint Education, receives about $72 million a year in revenue from students who get aid from the GI Bill and other military programs, The Chronicle reported. The university didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.