Feds OK Purdue acquisition of Kaplan

The federal government has given the green light to Purdue University to continue its plans to create a new online school through the acquisition of for-profit Kaplan University.

Purdue, a public university, announced this week that the U.S. Department of Education has approved the move, which would transfer the for-profit university’s robust online program — one of the top destinations for military and veteran students — to Purdue.

Department of Education Press Secretary Liz Hill said in an email the department had concluded there are “no current impediments to the requests for approval of change of ownership.”

“But, keep in mind, a preacquistion determination is not a final approval,” she said.

Purdue NewU, the nickname for the new school, received unanimous approval from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in August, according to the university. In addition to approval from the Education Department, it also needs a sign off from Purdue and Kaplan’s accreditor, The Higher Learning Commission.

The Education Department has outlined certain conditions the university would need to meet, but it’s unclear what those conditions are, as neither the department nor a Purdue spokesman elaborated when asked.

“Purdue is appreciative of the Department of Education’s swift action,” Frank Dooley, senior vice provost for teaching and learning at Purdue, said in a news release. He added that it is “additional affirmation” of the school’s desire to fulfill its land-grant mission by expanding access to affordable education.

Kaplan University enrolled more than 16,000 active-duty military students in fiscal 2016, placing it among the top 20 schools that enroll the most students using tuition assistance, a Department of Defense education benefit, federal data show. In fiscal 2015, it was also among the most popular colleges for veteran students using the GI Bill.

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