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Kaplan University

Kaplan University
Established 1937 as the American Institute of Commerce
Type For-Profit Online University subsidiary
President Wade Dyke
Academic staff
Nearly 3,600
Students 43,000 online and campus-based students[1]
Location Davenport, Iowa, US (with main administrative building in Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Campus 11 campuses in Iowa, Nebraska, and Maryland and 4 Kaplan University Learning Centers in Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin
Nickname Template:If empty
Affiliations Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, Graham Holdings Company

Kaplan University (KU) is the "doing business as" (DBA) name[2] of the Iowa College Acquisition Corporation, a company that owns and operates for-profit colleges. It is owned by Kaplan, Inc., a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company.[3]

Kaplan University is predominantly a distance learning institution of higher education that is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Kaplan University was named in honor of Stanley H. Kaplan,[4] who founded Kaplan Test Prep.[5]

In 2014 U.S. News & World Report ranked Kaplan University as #56 of 205 in the online bachelor's program category.[6] The university's graduate nursing program was ranked #70 of 95.[7]

Kaplan University has faced several federal whistle-blower lawsuits whose accusations dovetail with the findings of an undercover federal investigation which revealed high-pressure recruiting and unrealistic salary promises.[8] Kaplan's enrollment has declined from 119,000 to 65,000 amid these controversies.[9]

According to the New York Times, 23% of Kaplan's programs fail the proposed gainful employment regulations, and an additional 10% are close to failing. This means that a significant number of Kaplan graduates are unable to pay back their student loans. [10]

In 2015, Kaplan settled with federal Officials regarding allegations that it hired instructors who were not qualified. Approximately 300 former students of Kaplan will receive tuition refunds as part of the settlement.[11][12]


The American Institute of Commerce was established in 1937 before changing its name to Quest College. In November 2000, Quest College's name was changed to Kaplan College after Kaplan, Inc. acquired it with the purchase of Quest Education Corporation.

In September 2004, Kaplan College officially changed its name to Kaplan University after it was granted permission to offer graduate-level degree programs.

The university’s school of nursing was awarded a national professional accreditation for its Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in April 2006 from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). In October 2007, all seven Iowa and Nebraska-based Hamilton College (Iowa) campuses merged with Kaplan University and are now operating under the Kaplan University brand. Concord Law School merged with Kaplan University in October 2007, changing its name to Concord Law School of Kaplan University. Concord is not recognized by the American Bar Association, which does not accredit online institutions, although students with non-ABA-accredited law degrees are allowed to take California's bar examination and practice law once admitted to the bar.[13][14]

Offerings and enrollment

Kaplan University offers associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees as well as certificates in such fields as education, business, information technology, arts and sciences, healthcare, nursing, criminal justice, and legal studies. Kaplan University serves more than 42,000 online and on-campus students. While Kaplan University is based in Davenport, Iowa, the main administration building is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.[15] In addition to 11 campuses in Iowa, Nebraska, and Maryland (and four Kaplan University Learning Centers), Kaplan has online student support centers in Florida and Illinois. Kaplan has nearly 3,600 instructors, professors, and administrators.


Kaplan University is academically organized into ten schools.[16][17]

  • Business[18]
  • General Education[19]
  • Graduate Education[20]
  • Health Sciences[21]
  • Information Technology[22]
  • Nursing[23]
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences [24]
  • Kaplan Continuing Education[25]
  • Concord Law School of Kaplan University[26]
  • Open College (OC@KU) [27]

In January, 2014, Kaplan University issued its fourth annual academic report. The 50-page annual report, which covers the academic year beginning July 1, 2012 and ending June 30, 2013, includes an overview of Kaplan University and key metrics around the educational experience, student learning and employment outcomes, and graduate satisfaction ratings. It also provides profiles of individual schools within the university system.[28]

Admissions and financial aid

Kaplan University has an open admissions policy.[29][not in citation given] Applicants are eligible for both Pell grants and federal student loans. The university offers members of the military discounted tuition rates as well as granting service members college credit for some of the military education they may have received while in the service.[30]


Alleged misrepresentations

In 2010 Florida's Attorney General opened an investigation of Kaplan and four other for-profit universities for allegedly making misrepresentations to students about several matters, including financial aid.[31] The federal Education Department released data in August 2010 demonstrating that only 28% of former Kaplan students were paying anything off the principal of their student loans. The remainder were paying only interest on their loans, were behind in payments, or in default. For comparison, the federal data show that 56% of students from non-profit colleges in the United States are paying off principal from their loans, thus at twice the rate of Kaplan students.[32] In June 2014, the Florida Attorney General ended the investigation after finding no violations by Kaplan. [33]

Alleged improper recruiting

Kaplan University was one of 15 for-profit colleges cited by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for deceptive or questionable statements that were made to undercover investigators posing as applicants.[34] The Pembroke Pines and Riverside campuses were both cited in the GAO report.[35] Andrew S. Rosen, President of Kaplan, Inc., described the tactics as "sickening" and promised to eliminate such conduct from Kaplan.[36] On November 30, 2010, the GAO issued a revised report with several significant edits, altering key passages and softening several of the initial allegations. However it stood by its finding that the college had encouraged fraud and misled potential applicants.[37]

False Claims Act lawsuits

In 2008 three former academic officers at Kaplan University filed wide-ranging federal False Claims Act lawsuits accusing the university of defrauding the United States government out of more than $4 billion. The lawsuits alleged that Kaplan enrolled unqualified students, inflated their grades so they could stay enrolled, and falsified documents to obtain accreditation for certain academic programs. The three suits were consolidated and filed in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida in March 2008.[38]

Kaplan moved to dismiss the consolidated suit. The Justice Department maintained that the “parade of horribles” that Kaplan predicted if the case were not dismissed was “entirely illusory”. The government is entitled to a portion of the proceeds if the employees prevail against the company. Kaplan University has denied any wrongdoing.[39]

One of the three lawsuits referenced above was withdrawn in 2012 after a settlement was reached with two of the former employees.[40] The second of the three lawsuits, brought by relator Jorge Torres, was dismissed with prejudice by Patricia Seitz.[41] However, the third False Claims Act lawsuit brought by Jude Gillespie, an attorney and former Kaplan University Department Chair was not dismissed.[42][43] The case of U.S. ex rel. Jude Gillespie v. Kaplan University was dismissed in October 2013 with a ruling in Kaplan's favor.[44]

The Chronicle of Higher Education has reported that the U.S. Department of Justice has taken a stance in siding with several whistle-blowers in false claims lawsuits against various colleges owned by Kaplan Higher Education. Under the False Claims Act, individuals are allowed to file lawsuits on behalf of the government in cases which involve allegations of fraud.

Kaplan argued that the consolidated lawsuit should be dismissed because it lacks the specificity required in a federal fraud case.[45]

Separately, former employee Charles Jajdelski brought a lawsuit in Nevada alleging that Kaplan’s Heritage College had filed fraudulent student financial aid requests, allegations denied by Kaplan. Jajdelski's request to transfer the suit to Florida to join with the others was denied as a "potential tag-along action". In July 2011, after Jajdelski had amended the original complaint several times, a judge dismissed the suit due to Jajdelski's failure to "state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud".[46] However, on February 13, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit breathed new life into allegations that a for-profit college owned by Kaplan, Inc., violated the False Claims Act by submitting sham financial aid claims to the U.S. Department of Education. See United States ex rel. Jajdelski v. Kaplan, Inc., No. 11-16651, slip op.[47]

Agreement with California Community Colleges

In 2009 a two-year memorandum of understanding was signed between Jack Scott, the chancellor of the California Community Colleges System, and Gregory Marino, President of the Kaplan University Group. Under this agreement, students who need a course to meet their associate degree requirements would be able to take it at Kaplan. However, they would have to pay Kaplan's tuition, which is $646 for a three-credit class, compared with $78 per unit at the community colleges. The agreement is controversial because it was signed without any input from community college educators.[48]

Degree credibility and debt load

In 2010 Kaplan and other for-profit education companies came under scrutiny from the U.S. Congress due to concerns that the industry leaves too many students with heavy debts, and with credentials that are of little help in finding jobs.[49]


  1. "Kaplan Singapore". sguni. 
  2. "Iowa Secretary of State - Matt Schultz". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  3. "Kaplan University: A For-Profit Take On Education". NPR. 2010-05-06. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  4. "Kaplan Inc. - SHK". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  5. "Test Prep Pioneer Stanley Kaplan Dead At 90". NY1. 2009-08-24. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  6. "U.S. News & World Report: Best Online Programs - Bachelor's Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. 
  7. "U.S. New & World Report: Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs". U.S. News & World Report. 
  8. "Scrutiny Takes Toll on For-Profit College Company". New York Times. 
  12. "For-Profit College Kaplan To Refund Federal Financial Aid Under Settlement With United States" (Press release). Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Texas. January 5, 2015. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  13. "Distance Education | Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  14. Archived January 7, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  15. Archived November 20, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  16. "Online University Degree Programs: Accredited Online Degrees & Online Certificates | Kaplan University". 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  17. [1][dead link]
  18. "Online Business Degree Programs | Earn Your Business Degree Online". 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  19. "School of General Education". Kaplan University. 
  20. "Online Education Degrees | Earn Your Education Degree Online". 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  21. "Online Health Science Degrees: School of Health Sciences | Kaplan University". 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  22. "Online IT Degree | Information Technology Degree at Kaplan University". 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  23. "School of Nursing: Online Nursing Degree Programs | Kaplan University". 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  24. "School of Social and Behavioral Sciences". Kaplan University. 
  25. "Professional and Continuing Education Project Management and Certificate Programs offered by Kaplan | PDC". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  26. "Online Law School - Get Your Law Degree Online | Concord Law School". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  27. "Free Online University - OC@KU offers individualized, affordable education that integrates technology and personalized service to help learners meet their career, academic, and personal goals.". Kaplan University. Retrieved 2015-01-14. 
  28. "Kaplan University Facts and Annual Report". Kaplan University. 
  29. National Center for Education Statistics (2012). "College Navigator – Kaplan University". Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  30. "University Corner: Kaplan University". Military Advanced Education (KMI Media Group) 4 (2). March–April 2009. Retrieved August 1, 2011. 
  31. Rosenblatt, Joel (October 20, 2010). "Washington Post's Kaplan, For-Profit Schools Are Focus of Florida Probe". Bloomberg. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 
  32. Anderson, Nick (August 17, 2010). "For-profit higher-education providers resist regulatory action". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 
  33. "Florida Attorney General ends Kaplan investigation". Miami Herald. 
  34. "Testimony : For-Profit Colleges : Undercover Testing Finds Colleges Encouraged Fraud and Engaged in Deceptive and Questionable Marketing Practices" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  35. Blumenstyk, Goldie (2010-08-06). "Kaplan Suspends Enrollment at Campuses Where Federal Investigators Found Recruiting Abuses - Finance - The Chronicle of Higher Education". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  36. Vise, Daniel de; Paul Kane (2010-08-05). "GAO: 15 for-profit colleges used deceptive recruiting tactics". The Washington Post. ISSN 0740-5421. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  37. Anderson, Nick (8 December 2010). "GAO revises its report critical of practices at for-profit schools". The Washington Post. 
  38. Blumenstyk, Goldie (March 21, 2008). "3 Former Employees Accuse Kaplan U. of Bilking Government Out of Billions". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  39. Blumenstyk, Goldie (May 30, 2008). "Justice Dept. Argues Against Dismissal of Lawsuit Challenging Kaplan U.". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  40. Blumenstyk, Goldie (2012-04-11). "2 Former Kaplan Employees Settle Lawsuit and Withdraw Whistle-Blower Case - Administration - The Chronicle of Higher Education". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  41. Seitz, Patricia A. "Order". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  42. Seitz, Patricia A. "Order Granting In Part And Denying in Part Motions to Dismiss". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  43. Mayrell, Ralph C. (December 2012). "Blowing the Whistle on Civil Rights". Texas Law Review. 91 Texas L. Rev. 91: 449. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  44. report on Gillespie ruling
  45. Blumenstyk, Goldie (July 6, 2010). "Justice Department Weighs In for Whistle-Blowers in Cases Against Kaplan". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  46. Chamlee, Virginia (July 12, 2011). "Kaplan suit dismissed". The Florida Independent. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  47. Mann, Michael. "Ninth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of FCA Suit When Allegations Raised "Strong Inference" False Claims Were Actually Submitted". Sidley Austin, LLP. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  48. "Is outsourcing community college education serving students? - Los Angeles Times". 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  49. Lewin, Tamar (November 9, 2010). "Scrutiny Takes Toll on For-Profit College Company". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 

External links

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