Kaplan University

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Kaplan University
Type For-Profit Online University subsidiary
Established 1937 as the American Institute of Commerce
President Dr. Betty Vandenbosch
Academic staff
Nearly 3,600
Students 37,000 online and campus-based students[1]
Location Davenport, Iowa, US (with main administrative building in Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Campus 14 campuses in Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin and 1 Kaplan University Learning Center in Maryland [2]
Affiliations Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, Graham Holdings Company
Website kaplan.edu
Ku sta pos rgb 301 2755.png

Kaplan University (KU) is the "doing business as" (DBA) name[3] of the Iowa College Acquisition Corporation, a company that owns and operates non-competitive for-profit colleges. It is owned by Kaplan, Inc., a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company.[4]

Kaplan University is predominantly a distance learning institution of higher education that is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Kaplan University was named in honor of Stanley H. Kaplan,[5] who founded Kaplan Test Prep.[6]

The university elected to participate in U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Bachelor programs in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Submissions were evaluated, ranked and published in January of the following year. Kaplan University’s online bachelor’s program ranked #56 in 2014, #76 in 2015, and #137 in 2016.

Kaplan University also elected to participate in 2013 in the best online nursing program. Kaplan’s School of Nursing elected not to participate in subsequent years. [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]


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). The School of Nursing was granted additional programmatic accreditations from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in June 2016, including for its doctoral and master’s programs. [11] In addition, other schools have earned programmatic accreditation. For example, Kaplan University’s School of Business was granted accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) in 2013. [12]

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 Law School was established in 1998 and was the first fully online law school in the United States. [13]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.[14][15]

Kaplan faced significant downsizing in 2015 when it sold 38 Kaplan College campuses to Education Corporation of America. [16]

Offerings and enrollment[edit]

The University, which has its main campus in Davenport, Iowa, and its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. Kaplan University serves approximately 37,000 online and campus-based students. The University has 14 campuses in Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Maryland, Maine, Missouri and Wisconsin, and a Kaplan University Learning Center in Maryland.[17]


Kaplan University is academically organized into eight schools.[18][19]

  • Business and Information Technology[20] [21]
  • Concord Law School[22]
  • Education[23]
  • Health Sciences[24]
  • Nursing[25]
  • Open College[26]
  • Professional and Continuing Education[27]
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences [28]

In January, 2016, Kaplan University issued its sixth annual academic report. The 50-page annual report, which covers the academic year beginning July 1, 2014 and ending June 30, 2015, 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.[29]

Admissions and financial aid[edit]

Kaplan University has an open admissions policy.[30][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.[31]


Alleged improper recruiting[edit]

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.[32] The Pembroke Pines, Florida and Riverside, California campuses were both cited in the GAO report.[33] Andrew S. Rosen, President of Kaplan, Inc., described the tactics as "sickening" and promised to eliminate such conduct from Kaplan.[34] Following through on that promise, Kaplan introduced the Kaplan Commitment in 2010 that provides incoming students with an opportunity to enroll in classes without first making a significant financial commitment so they may determine if the coursework meets their educational needs. Since the programs introduction in 2010, more than 200,000 students have enrolled under the Kaplan Commitment. [35] 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.[36]

False Claims Act lawsuits[edit]

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.[37]

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.[38]

One of the three lawsuits referenced above was withdrawn in 2012 after a settlement was reached with two of the former employees.[39] The second of the three lawsuits, brought by relator Jorge Torres, was dismissed with prejudice by Patricia Seitz.[40] However, the third False Claims Act lawsuit brought by Jude Gillespie, an attorney and former Kaplan University Department Chair was not dismissed.[41][42] The case of U.S. ex rel. Jude Gillespie v. Kaplan University was dismissed in October 2013 with a ruling in Kaplan's favor.[43]

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.[44]

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".[45] 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.[46]

Degree credibility and debt load[edit]

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.[47]

Political influence[edit]

Anita Dunn, a former White House spokesperson, was hired by Kaplan to undermine President Barack Obama’s effort to hold predatory schools accountable. [48][49]


In 2015, The Miami Herald revealed "a trove" of information about Kaplan's questionable business practices [50]


  1. ^ "Graham Holdings Company Reports First Quarter Earnings". 
  2. ^ "Campus Experience". 
  3. ^ "Iowa Secretary of State - Matt Schultz". Sos.state.ia.us. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  4. ^ "Kaplan University: A For-Profit Take On Education". NPR. 2010-05-06. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  5. ^ "Kaplan Inc. - SHK". Kaplan.com. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  6. ^ "Test Prep Pioneer Stanley Kaplan Dead At 90". NY1. 2009-08-24. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  7. ^ http://newsroom.kaplan.edu/press-release/kaplan-higher-education-group/second-consecutive-year-kaplan-university-ranks-among-be
  8. ^ "Scrutiny Takes Toll on For-Profit College Company". New York Times. 
  9. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/bezoss-purchase-of-the-po_b_3714431.html
  10. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/03/upshot/corinthian-colleges-is-closing-its-students-may-be-better-off-as-a-result.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1
  11. ^ "Kaplan University's School of Nursing MSN-Nurse Practitioner Program and Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Earn National Accreditation from CCNE". Businesswire. 
  12. ^ "Kaplan University's School of Business Granted Accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)". Kaplan Newsroom. 
  13. ^ "Accreditation". Concord Law School. 
  14. ^ "Distance Education | Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar". Abanet.org. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  15. ^ Archived January 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/02/13/education-corp-buys-38-kaplan-college-campuses
  17. ^ "Academic Report: The Year in Review 2014–2015". Kaplan University. 
  18. ^ "Online University Degree Programs: Accredited Online Degrees & Online Certificates | Kaplan University". Kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  19. ^ [1][dead link]
  20. ^ "Business Programs". kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  21. ^ "Information Technology Programs". kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  22. ^ "Online Law School - Get Your Law Degree Online | Concord Law School". Concordlawschool.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  23. ^ "School of Education". Kaplan University. 
  24. ^ "Online Health Science Degrees: School of Health Sciences | Kaplan University". Online.kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  25. ^ "School of Nursing: Online Nursing Degree Programs | Kaplan University". Online.kaplanuniversity.edu. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  26. ^ "Open College at Kaplan University". Kaplan University. Retrieved 2015-01-14. 
  27. ^ "Professional and Continuing Education Project Management and Certificate Programs offered by Kaplan | PDC". Kaplancontinuingeducation.com. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  28. ^ "School of Social and Behavioral Sciences". Kaplan University. 
  29. ^ "Kaplan University Facts and Annual Report". Kaplan University. 
  30. ^ National Center for Education Statistics (2012). "College Navigator – Kaplan University". Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  31. ^ "University Corner: Kaplan University". Military Advanced Education. KMI Media Group. 4 (2). March–April 2009. Retrieved August 1, 2011. 
  32. ^ "Testimony : For-Profit Colleges : Undercover Testing Finds Colleges Encouraged Fraud and Engaged in Deceptive and Questionable Marketing Practices" (PDF). Gao.gov. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  33. ^ Blumenstyk, Goldie (2010-08-06). "Kaplan Suspends Enrollment at Campuses Where Federal Investigators Found Recruiting Abuses - Finance - The Chronicle of Higher Education". Chronicle.com. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  34. ^ 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. 
  35. ^ "Kaplan University Academic Report—The Year in Review, 2014-2015". kaplanuniversity.edu. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  36. ^ Anderson, Nick (8 December 2010). "GAO revises its report critical of practices at for-profit schools". The Washington Post. 
  37. ^ 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. 
  38. ^ Blumenstyk, Goldie (May 30, 2008). "Justice Dept. Argues Against Dismissal of Lawsuit Challenging Kaplan U.". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  39. ^ Blumenstyk, Goldie (2012-04-11). "2 Former Kaplan Employees Settle Lawsuit and Withdraw Whistle-Blower Case - Administration - The Chronicle of Higher Education". Chronicle.com. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  40. ^ Seitz, Patricia A. "Order". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  41. ^ Seitz, Patricia A. "Order Granting In Part And Denying in Part Motions to Dismiss". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  42. ^ Mayrell, Ralph C. (December 2012). "Blowing the Whistle on Civil Rights". Texas Law Review. 91 Texas L. Rev. 91: 449. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  43. ^ report on Gillespie ruling
  44. ^ 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. 
  45. ^ Chamlee, Virginia (July 12, 2011). "Kaplan suit dismissed". The Florida Independent. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  46. ^ 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. 
  47. ^ Lewin, Tamar (November 9, 2010). "Scrutiny Takes Toll on For-Profit College Company". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  48. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/which-for-profit-college_b_5040172.html
  49. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/10/us/politics/for-profit-college-rules-scaled-back-after-lobbying.html?_r=0
  50. ^ http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article19196526.html

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°8′N 80°12′W / 26.133°N 80.200°W / 26.133; -80.200