10-K 1 stra-20171231x10k.htm 10-K stra_Current_Folio_10K

 

UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017

 

Commission file number: 0-21039

STRAYER EDUCATION, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

MARYLAND

52-1975978

(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer Identification Number)

 

2303 Dulles Station Boulevard, Herndon, VA 20171
(Address of principal executive offices)

 

REGISTRANT’S TELEPHONE NUMBER INCLUDING AREA CODE: (703) 247-2500

 

SECURITIES REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OF THE ACT:

 

COMMON STOCK, $.01 PAR VALUE

NASDAQ GLOBAL SELECT MARKET

(Title of class)

(Name of each exchange on which registered)

 

SECURITIES REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(g) OF THE ACT:

NONE

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act: ☑  Yes ☐ No

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act:    ☐ Yes ☑ No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the last 90 days. ☑ Yes ☐ No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 229.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). ☑ Yes ☐ No

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (Section 229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ☑

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

 

 

 

 

Large accelerated filer

 

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

Smaller reporting company

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Securities Exchange Act). ☐ Yes ☑ No

 

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common stock held by non-affiliates (computed by reference to the price at which the common stock was last sold) as of June 30, 2017, the last business day of the Registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, was $997.6 million.

 

The total number of shares of common stock outstanding as of February 1, 2018 was 11,161,266.

 

 

 

 

 


 

STRAYER EDUCATION, INC.

 

FORM 10-K

 

INDEX

 

 

    

 

    

Page

PART I 

 

 

 

 

Item 1 

 

Business

 

5

Item 1A 

 

Risk Factors

 

33

Item 1B 

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

49

Item 2 

 

Properties

 

49

Item 3 

 

Legal Proceedings

 

50

Item 4 

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

50

 

 

 

 

 

PART II 

 

 

 

 

Item 5 

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer
Purchases of Equity Securities

 

51

Item 6 

 

Selected Financial Data

 

54

Item 7 

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

55

Item 7A 

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

 

66

Item 8 

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

67

Item 9 

 

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

97

Item 9A 

 

Controls and Procedures

 

97

Item 9B 

 

Other Information

 

97

 

 

 

 

 

PART III 

 

 

 

 

Item 10 

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

99

Item 11 

 

Executive Compensation

 

103

Item 12 

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management

 

123

Item 13 

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions

 

125

Item 14 

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

127

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV 

 

 

 

 

Item 15 

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

127

Item 16 

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

128

 

 

 

 

 

SIGNATURES 

 

133

 

 

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PART I

 

CAUTIONARY NOTICE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS:

 

This document and the documents incorporated by reference herein include “forward-looking statements,” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), including, in particular, the statements about our plans, strategies, and prospects under the headings “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business.” We have typically used the words “expect,” “estimate,” “assume,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “will,” “forecast,” “outlook”, “plan,” “project,” and similar expressions in this document and the documents incorporated by reference herein to identify forward-looking statements. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current views with respect to future events and financial performance. Actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to many risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including, among other things:

 

·

the pace of growth of student enrollment;

 

·

our continued compliance with Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (the “Higher Education Act” or “HEA”), and the regulations thereunder, as well as regional accreditation standards and state regulatory requirements;

 

·

rulemaking by the Department of Education and increased focus by the U.S. Congress on for-profit education institutions;

 

·

competitive factors;

 

·

risks associated with the opening of new campuses;

 

·

risks associated with the offering of new educational programs and adapting to other changes;

 

·

risks related to the timing of regulatory approvals;

 

·

our ability to continue to implement our growth strategy;

 

·

the risk that our pending merger with Capella may not be completed in a timely manner or at all due to the failure to satisfy other conditions (including obtaining required regulatory and education agency approvals) to completion of the merger;

 

·

the occurrence of any event, change, or other circumstance that could give rise to the termination of the merger agreement with Capella;

 

·

the outcome of any legal proceeding that may be instituted against Strayer, Capella, and others prior to the consummation of our merger with Capella;

 

·

the amount of the costs, fees, expenses, and charges related to our pending merger with Capella;

 

·

the risk that the benefits of our merger with Capella, including expected synergies, may not be fully realized or may take longer to realize than expected;

 

·

the risk that our merger with Capella may not advance the combined company’s business strategy and growth strategy;

 

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·

the risk that the combined company may experience difficulty integrating Strayer’s and Capella’s employees or operations;

 

·

the potential diversion of our management’s attention resulting from our pending merger with Capella;

 

·

risks associated with the ability of our students to finance their education in a timely manner; and

 

·

general economic and market conditions.

 

You should not put undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. You should understand that many important factors, including those discussed under the headings “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business,” could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or suggested in any forward-looking statements. Further information about these and other relevant risks and uncertainties may be found in Item 1A (“Risk Factors”) below and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We undertake no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements, except as required by law.

 

References to “we,” “us,” “our,” “Strayer,” the “Corporation,” and the “Company” refer to Strayer Education, Inc., together with our consolidated subsidiaries Strayer University and the New York Code and Design Academy, unless the context suggests otherwise.

 

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Item 1.       Business

 

Overview

 

Our company provides a variety of post-secondary education and other academic programs through two wholly-owned subsidiaries, Strayer University (the “University”) and the New York Code and Design Academy (“NYCDA”).

 

Founded in 1892, Strayer University is an institution of higher learning that offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business administration, accounting, information technology, education, health services administration, nursing, public administration, and criminal justice at 71 physical campuses, predominantly located in the eastern United States, and online. Strayer University also offers an executive MBA online through its Jack Welch Management Institute (“JWMI”). For the 2017 fall term, we had 48,144 students enrolled in our programs. Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (hereinafter referred to as “Middle States” or “Middle States Commission”), one of the six regional collegiate accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (“Department of Education” or the “Department”). Middle States is located at 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267-284-5000). By offering its programs both online and in physical classrooms, the University provides its working adult students more flexibility and convenience. Strayer University, with its online offerings, attracts students from around the country and throughout the world.

 

The New York Code and Design Academy provides non-degree courses in web and application software development, primarily at its campuses in New York City and in Philadelphia, PA. NYCDA is licensed by the New York Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision, but is not accredited and does not participate in state or federal student financial aid programs. We acquired NYCDA on January 13, 2016.

 

On October 29, 2017, we entered into a merger agreement with Capella Education Company (“Capella”). Capella provides post-secondary education and job-skills programs primarily through its subsidiary Capella University. The merger was approved by our shareholders and by Capella’s stockholders on January 19, 2018. Upon consummation of the merger, Capella will become our wholly-owned subsidiary and will continue to offer its education programs through Capella University. Pursuant to the merger, we will issue 0.875 shares of Strayer Common Stock for each issued and outstanding share of Capella Common Stock, and outstanding equity awards held by current Capella employees and certain non-employee directors will be assumed by us and converted into comparable Strayer awards at the exchange ratio. Outstanding equity awards held by Capella non-employee directors who will not serve as directors of Strayer after completion of the merger and by former Capella employees will be settled in connection with completion of the merger in exchange for cash payments as specified in the merger agreement. Following the merger, Strayer and Capella stockholders are expected to own approximately 52% and 48%, respectively, of the outstanding combined company shares on a fully diluted basis, based on the number of shares currently expected to be outstanding immediately prior to the effective time of the merger. Also, in connection with the completion of the merger and as approved by our shareholders on January 19, 2018, we will change our name to Strategic Education, Inc. and increase the number of shares of authorized Common Stock to 32,000,000. The merger is anticipated to close in the third quarter of 2018, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the receipt of approval by the Higher Learning Commission.  

 

We generated net revenue of $455 million in 2017. For more information regarding our revenues, profits, and financial condition, please refer to “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Industry Background

 

The market for post-secondary education is large, fragmented, and competitive. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 20.4 million students attend approximately 7,000 post-secondary institutions in the United States. About 1.6 million students attend proprietary institutions. Controversy about the cost of higher education, under-employment of many college graduates, and persistent negative media coverage has caused some prospective students to question the value proposition of higher education. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, college enrollments in all higher education sectors declined 1.4% and 1.0% in fall 2016 and 2017,

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respectively. Enrollment at proprietary colleges declined 14.5% and 7.1% in fall 2016 and 2017, respectively. The industry is heavily dependent on continued availability of funding for programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (“Title IV programs”) and concerns about potential reductions in such funding also could negatively impact demand for higher education.

 

Notwithstanding weaker demand dynamics over the past few years, we believe that over time, demand for post-secondary education will increase as a result of demographic, economic, and social trends. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that approximately 62 million adults over the age of 25 in the United States do not have more than a high school education, and approximately 36 million adults over the age of 25 have some college experience but have not completed a college degree. Other trends that could positively impact demand for our programs include:

 

·

increasing demand by employers for certain types of professional and skilled workers;

 

·

growth in the number of high school graduates from 2.8 million in 1999-2000 to an estimated 3.6 million in 2017-2018, according to the National Center for Education Statistics;

 

·

the significant and measurable income premium and enhanced employment prospects attributable to post-secondary education;

 

·

a number of initiatives underway to reduce the cost of a post-secondary education; and

 

·

continued demand from working adults for programs offered by regionally accredited institutions.

 

Company Strengths

 

We have a track record of providing practical and convenient education programs and solutions for working adults and employers. We believe the following strengths position us to capitalize on the demand for post-secondary education:

 

·

Consistent operating history. Strayer University has been in continuous operation since 1892 and has demonstrated an ability to operate consistently and grow profitably.

 

·

Practical and diversified programs. We offer programs in practical areas of adult education. In order to keep pace with a changing knowledge-based economy, we constantly strive to meet the evolving needs of our students and their current and prospective employers by regularly refining, updating, and adding to our portfolio of educational programs. In January 2016, we acquired NYCDA, which offers non-degree courses in web and application software development that prepare students for high-demand jobs in software and web application development. In December 2011, Strayer University acquired the Jack Welch Management Institute, an online leadership education program that enables us to offer a differentiated executive MBA degree and executive certificates to students and employees of leading corporations. Across Strayer University and NYCDA, we currently offer approximately 100 different degree, diploma, certificate, and non-degree training programs and concentrations.

 

·

Focus on adults pursuing career-relevant degree and non-degree programs. We focus on serving adults who are pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as non-degree certificates and training programs that will help them advance their careers and employment opportunities.

 

·

Flexible program offerings. We maintain flexible programs that allow students to attend classes and complete coursework during the day, in the evening, and on weekends throughout the calendar year. Online programs offered through Strayer University enable students to take some or all of their classes via the internet. Approximately 85% of our students enrolled for the 2017 fall term were taking all of their courses online.

 

·

Attractive and convenient campus locations. Strayer University’s campuses are located in growing metropolitan areas, mostly in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions where there are large populations of

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adults with demographic characteristics similar to those of our typical students. Our campuses are attractive and modern, offering conducive learning environments in convenient locations

 

·

Established brand name and alumni support. With a 126-year operating history, Strayer University is an established brand name in post-secondary adult education, and our students and graduates work throughout corporate America. Our alumni network fosters additional referral opportunities for students.

 

Company Strategy

 

Our goal is to be a leading provider of career-relevant education programs, primarily in the areas of business, accounting, information technology, and software development, that prepare students for advancement in their careers and professional lives. We have identified the following strategic priorities as key to achieving our goal:

 

·

Improve student success — Our success depends on the success of our students. The more we focus on helping our students succeed, the more likely it is that we will succeed. In order to improve student success, we must continue to hire outstanding faculty, produce high quality academic course content that engages and inspires students, and employ cutting edge technology innovations that enable us to deploy faculty and content in increasingly efficient and reliable ways.

 

·

Enhance student experience — Our students are predominately working adults who are furthering their education in order to advance their careers and professional lives. Our students are busy with work and family responsibilities that leave little time for other endeavors. Thus, we make every effort to make all interactions with our students productive, and we are constantly looking for ways to serve them better. This includes leveraging technology, including artificial intelligence and automation, to improve student service in the areas of advising, tutoring, registration, campus and online technology, and administration. We measure our performance through student surveys and focus groups.

 

·

Address affordability — The cost of a post-secondary education has increased substantially over the last decade while average earnings have only recently begun to increase. Recognizing that affordability is an important factor in a prospective student’s decision to further his or her education, in late 2013, we commenced an effort at Strayer University to make our degree programs more affordable. First, we introduced our Graduation Fund. Under this program, qualifying students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program are eligible to receive one free course for every three courses successfully completed towards a bachelor’s degree. The free courses earned are redeemable in one’s final academic year. Furthermore, beginning the winter term 2014, we reduced undergraduate tuition for new students by 20%. In 2017, we began testing reduced tuition across several graduate degree programs in several different states. We continue to monitor and assess the impact of our affordability initiatives and explore other ways to make our offerings as affordable as possible. We have also begun to more aggressively deploy technology innovations, including artificial intelligence and automation, that enable us to lower our operating costs thus improving our ability to support lower tuition.

 

·

Establish new platforms for growth  We are constantly looking for new ways to leverage our existing resources and capabilities to grow. Our acquisitions of the Jack Welch Management Institute in 2011, and NYCDA in 2016, represent continued opportunities to leverage our management capability and our physical campus and online infrastructure to accelerate growth. We continue to leverage the strong reputation and track record of Strayer University to develop new programs and concentrations like the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, which received Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accreditation in mid-2017, and the Bachelor of Applied Science in Management, which began instruction in the Winter 2018 term. We also launched in 2017 the MBA in Digital Entreprenuership, a collaboration with Cheddar, a leading business news outlet that streams live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

 

·

Build a high performing culture — In order to be a leading provider of educational services, we must have talented and motivated faculty and employees who are passionate about serving students. We strive to attract the best talent and then develop and retain them. We want to be known as an employer of choice and be a place where one can build a long-term career.

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Strayer University

 

Curriculum

 

Strayer University offers business, information technology, and professional curricula to equip students with specialized and practical knowledge and skills for careers in business, industry, and government. Our academic leaders regularly review and revise the University’s course offerings to improve our educational programs and respond to competitive changes in job markets. We regularly evaluate new programs and degrees to ensure that we stay current with the needs of our students and their employers.

 

Strayer University offers programs in the following areas:

 

Graduate Programs

    

Undergraduate Programs

Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) Degree

 

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree

Jack Welch Executive Master of Business

 

 

Accounting

 

Administration (M.B.A.) Degree

 

 

Criminal Justice

Master of Education (M.Ed.) Degree

 

 

Information Systems

Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) Degree

 

 

Information Technology

Master of Science (M.S.) Degree

 

 

Nursing

 

Accounting

 

 

Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) Degree

 

Health Services Administration

 

 

Accounting

 

Human Resource Management

 

 

Acquisition and Contract Management

 

Information Assurance

 

 

Entrepreneurship

 

Information Systems

 

 

Finance

 

Management

 

 

Health Services Administration

 

Nursing

 

 

Hospitality and Tourism Management

 

 

 

 

Human Resource Management

 

 

 

 

Management

 

 

 

 

Marketing

 

 

 

 

Project Management

 

 

 

 

Retail Management

 

 

 

 

Social Media Marketing

 

 

 

 

Joe Gibbs Performance Management

 

 

 

Bachelor of Applied Science in Management

 

 

 

Associate in Arts (A.A.) Degree

 

 

 

 

Accounting

 

 

 

 

Acquisitions and Contract Management

 

 

 

 

Business Administration

 

 

 

 

Information Systems

 

 

 

 

Information Technology

 

 

 

 

Marketing

 

 

 

Diploma Program

 

 

 

 

Acquisition and Contract Management

 

Each undergraduate degree program includes courses in oral and written communication skills as well as mathematics and various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. In addition to our degree and diploma programs, we offer classes to non-degree and non-program students wishing to take courses for personal or professional enrichment.

 

Although most of our programs are offered at our campuses and online, the University adapts its course offerings to the demands of the student population at each location. Strayer University students may enroll in courses at more than one campus and take courses online.

 

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Strayer University structures its curricula to allow students to advance sequentially from one learning level to another by applying credits earned in one program toward attainment of a more advanced degree. For example, a student originally pursuing an associate’s degree in information systems can extend his or her original educational objective by taking additional courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in information systems, and ultimately a master’s degree in information systems. This curriculum design provides students a level of competency and a measure of attainment in the event they interrupt their education or choose to work in their field of concentration prior to obtaining their final degree.

 

Online

 

Strayer University has been offering courses online since 1997. Currently, almost all students taking classes online choose the asynchronous format. Students may take all of their courses online or may take online courses in combination with classroom-based courses. A student taking classes online has the same admission and financial aid requirements, is subject to substantially the same policies and procedures, and receives the same student services and support as campus-based Strayer University students. Tuition for online courses is the same as campus-based courses.

 

Faculty

 

The University appoints faculty who hold appropriate academic credentials, are dedicated, active professionals in their field, and are enthusiastic and committed to teaching working adults. In accordance with our educational mission, the University faculty focuses its efforts on teaching. The normal course load for a full-time faculty member is five courses per quarter for each of three quarters, or 15 courses per academic year. Further, many full-time faculty members participate actively in the University by providing leadership, developing the curriculum, setting academic policy, and serving on assessment committees.

 

We provide financial support for faculty members seeking to enhance their skills and knowledge. The University maintains a professional development funding program that reimburses eligible faculty and deans for completing courses, continuing education, seminars, and various programs that enhance their current credentials and knowledge base to improve their content expertise. Full-time faculty (and all other full-time employees) receive a 90% discount for all Strayer University courses. The University also conducts annual in-house faculty workshops in each discipline. We believe that our dedicated and capable faculty is one of the keys to our success.

 

Organization of Strayer University

 

Overall academic and business decisions of the University, including review and approval of the annual financial budget, are directed by its Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees consists of Dr. Charlotte F. Beason, Chairwoman, and currently eight other members. The University By-Laws prescribe that a majority of members be independent from the University and Strayer Education, Inc. to assure independent oversight of all academic programs and services. Of the nine members, five are independent from the University and Strayer Education, Inc. The current Trustees are listed below:

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Board of Trustees

 

Dr. Charlotte F. Beason

 

Dr. Beason is the Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees. She has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 1996. She has extensive experience in education, distance learning, and the accreditation of education programs. (See Item 10 below for additional biographical information.)

Mr. Mark C. Brown

 

Mr. Brown is Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees. In 2015, he retired from his role as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Strayer Education, Inc., a position he held for 14 years, and joined the University’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Brown was previously the Chief Financial Officer of the Kantar Group, the information and consultancy division of WPP Group, a multi-national communications services company. Prior to that, for nearly 12 years, Mr. Brown held a variety of management positions at PepsiCo, Inc., including Director of Corporate Planning for Pepsi Bottling Group and Business Unit Chief Financial Officer for Pepsi-Cola International. Mr. Brown is a Certified Public Accountant who started his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP. Mr. Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Duke University and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

Dr. Jonathan Gueverra*

 

Dr. Gueverra was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2012. He now serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida Keys Community College. Prior to this appointment, he was the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Community College of the District of Columbia, the first community college in Washington, D.C. With over 25 years of higher education experience, Dr. Gueverra has served in a variety of administrative and faculty positions in two-year and four-year colleges and universities along the nation’s east coast. In 2015, he was elected to the board of trustees for the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Colleges. Prior to this, he served as a member of the board of the American Association for Community Colleges and co-chaired the Commission on Workforce Development. In addition, Dr. Gueverra serves on the Steering Committee and the Communications Committee for the Council of Presidents for the Florida College System. Dr. Gueverra holds an associate degree from Newbury College, a bachelor’s degree from Providence College, and a master’s degree in business administration and a doctorate in education both from the University of Massachusetts.

Mr. Brian W. Jones

 

Mr. Jones was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015 as an ex officio member and has served as Strayer University President since 2015. Mr. Jones joined Strayer University in 2012 as the General Counsel. (See Item 10 below for additional biographical information.)

Mr. Todd A. Milano

 

Mr. Milano has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 1992 and has more than 30 years of experience in post-secondary education. He is President Emeritus and Ambassador for Central Penn College, where he has devoted his entire professional career, having served as President and Chief Executive Officer from 1989 to 2012. (See Item 10 below for additional biographical information.)

 

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Dr. William C. Reha, MD*

 

Dr. Reha has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2007 and is Chair of its Alumni and Student Affairs Committee. He is a Board Certified Urologic Surgeon in Woodbridge, Virginia. Dr. Reha is active in Strayer University alumni affairs and is the 2005 Outstanding Alumni Award winner. Dr. Reha has served as President of the Prince William County Medical Society, the Potomac Hospital Medical Staff, and the Virginia Urological Society. He was also Speaker and is the immediate former President of the Medical Society of Virginia. He serves on the Virginia Delegation to the American Medical Association and is a State Society Network Representative for the American Association of Clinical Urologists. Dr. Reha is a Fellow of the Claude Moore Physician Leadership Institute and holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Binghamton University, an M.D. from New York Medical College, and a master’s in business administration from Strayer University. He completed his residency in Surgery/Urology at Georgetown University.

Dr. Peter D. Salins*

 

Dr. Salins has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2002 and is Chair of its Curriculum and Assessment Committee. Having served as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the State University of New York (SUNY) system from 1997 to 2006, he is currently University Professor of Political Science at SUNY’s Stony Brook University and Director of its graduate program in public policy. Dr. Salins is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a Director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council of New York. Dr. Salins holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture, a master’s degree in regional planning and a doctorate in metropolitan studies and regional planning, all from Syracuse University.

Dr. Carol Shapiro, MD*

 

Dr. Shapiro was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015. Dr. Shapiro, a plastic surgeon, is the Medical Director of the Wound Healing Center of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. She has served as President of the medical staff of the two hospitals in the county in which she practices. She has also served as President of the Prince William County Medical Society and was the first woman to be elected President of the Medical Society of Virginia. She chaired the Virginia Delegation of the American Medical Society. Dr. Shapiro served as President of the National Capital Society of Plastic Surgeons, and was appointed to serve on the Ethics and Judicial Committees of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Additionally, she has served on the Board of Trustees of the Prince William Hospital and Potomac Hospital. Currently, she is the Vice Chair of the Potomac Health Foundation and Chair of the Grants Committee, and serves on the Board of Trustees of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. Dr. Shapiro did her undergraduate work at the University of Pittsburgh and earned her M.D. at the Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia. After completing a residency in General Surgery and Plastic Surgery at Georgetown University, she started a solo practice in Woodbridge, Virginia. For several years, Dr. Shapiro was a Clinical Instructor at Georgetown University Department of Plastic Surgery. In 1996, she earned an MBA from George Mason University.

Dr. J. Chris Toe*

 

Dr. Toe has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2003. He served as President of Strayer University from 2003 to April 2006 and as Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Liberia from 2006 to 2009. Dr. Toe now serves as Executive Chairman of Agrifore Advisory & Investment Services (AAIS), Incorporated in Liberia and Senior Advisor for Country Strategic Planning for the World Food Programme in Rome, Italy. Dr. Toe holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Liberia, and a master’s degree in agricultural economics and a doctorate in economics, both from Texas Tech University.

 


*        Independent member.

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Within the academic, strategic and financial parameters set by the Board of Trustees, the University is managed on a daily basis by the University President. The President is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the policies established by the Board of Trustees and is supported in this function by senior administrative officers, including the Provost/Chief Academic Officer and the Chief Operating Officer of the University. The majority of the University’s operations are centralized within the President’s Office or the University’s senior administrative staff offices. These operations include academic programs, academic intelligence, academic services, student affairs, academic records, accounting and auditing, human resources, operations, marketing, public relations, facilities, information technology, and regulatory compliance, including oversight of the University’s participation in federal student financial aid programs.

 

Within this centralized structure, responsibilities fit within the purview of either the Provost/Chief Academic Officer or the Chief Operating Officer, both of whom report to the University President. The senior administrative officers that support the Provost/Chief Academic Officer in performing academic functions include six Academic Program Directors, a Vice President of Student and Faculty Resources, a Dean of Students in Student Affairs, a Vice President of Faculty, a Vice President of Institutional Research, and a Vice President for Content. Together, these individuals are responsible for faculty hiring and management, faculty development, curriculum development, student complaint resolution, policy oversight, student learning resources, and student learning outcomes. Each academic function receives further support from the University Registrar.

 

Operational functions including Student Financial Services, Information Technology, and campus operations are the primary responsibility of the Chief Operating Officer of the University. Other senior administrative officers also support the President in areas such as legal compliance, accounting and auditing, computer technology, insurance, and human resources. All of the senior administrative officers collaborate to ensure that University operations meet the annual budget established by the Board of Trustees and all applicable regulatory requirements.

 

University Senior Management

 

Brian W. Jones is University President. His biographical information is set forth in Item 10 below. At the regional and campus levels, the academic functions are overseen by the Regional Vice Provost and Campus Deans. Faculty are overseen by the Vice President of Faculty and Deans of Faculty. Day-to-day business operations are managed by a Campus Director. Campuses are staffed with personnel performing academic advising, financial aid, student services, admissions, and career development functions. Learning resource centers at campuses support the University’s instructional programs. Each learning resource center contains a library and computer laboratories and is operated by a full-time manager and/or a part-time assistant, depending on the campus student population, who assist students in the use of research resources.

 

Strayer Education, Inc. Executive Officers

 

For a description of Strayer Education, Inc.’s senior management, see the biographical information set forth in Item 10 below.

 

Outreach

 

To identify potential students, we engage in a broad range of activities to inform working adults and their employers about the programs offered at Strayer University. These activities include direct, digital, and social media marketing, marketing to our existing students and graduates, print and broadcast advertising, student referrals, and corporate and government outreach activities. Direct response methods (direct, digital, and social media marketing) are used to generate inquiries from potential students. All information relevant to prospective students is published on our website, www.strayer.edu. Strayer University maintains booths and information tables at appropriate conferences and expos, as well as at transfer days at community colleges. We also depend on the recommendation of our alumni network to maintain and enhance Strayer University’s reputation and promote its quality education. Our business-to-business outreach efforts include personal telephone calls, distribution of information through corporate intranets and human resource departments, and on-site information meetings. We record inquiries in our database and track them through to

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application and registration. Additionally, we provide information about new programs to students and alumni to encourage them to return for further education.

 

Student Profile

 

The majority of Strayer University students are working adults completing their first college degree to improve their job skills and advance their careers. Of the students enrolled in Strayer University’s programs at the beginning of the 2017 fall quarter, approximately 64% were age 31 or older, and approximately 87% were engaged in part-time study (fewer than three courses each quarter for undergraduate students and fewer than two for graduate students).

 

In the 2017 fall quarter, our undergraduate students registered for an average of approximately two courses and our graduate students for an average of approximately one course.

 

Strayer University has a very diverse student population. At the beginning of the 2017 fall quarter, approximately 76% of students self-reporting their ethnicity were minorities, and approximately 66% of students were women. Approximately 1% of the University’s students were international, and approximately 1% were active duty military personnel. Strayer University prides itself on making post-secondary education accessible to working adults who were previously unable to take advantage of educational opportunities.

 

The following is a breakdown of Strayer University students by program level as of the 2017 fall term:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Number of

    

Percentage of 

 

Program

 

students

 

total students

 

Bachelor’s

 

34,692

 

72%

 

Master’s

 

11,780

 

24%

 

Associate

 

1,533

 

3%

 

Total Degree

 

48,005

 

99%

 

Diploma

 

 6

 

*

 

Undeclared

 

133

 

*

 

Total Non-Degree

 

139

 

1%

 

Total Students

 

48,144

 

100%

 


*Represents less than 1%.

 

Our business is seasonal and as a result, our quarterly results of operations tend to vary within the year due to student enrollment patterns. Enrollment generally is lowest in the third quarter, or summer term.

 

Student Admissions

 

Students attending Strayer University’s undergraduate programs must possess a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) Certificate. Students attending Strayer University’s graduate programs must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and meet certain other requirements. If a student’s undergraduate major varies widely from the student’s proposed graduate course of study, certain undergraduate prerequisite courses may also be necessary for admission. To maximize undergraduate students’ chances for academic success and to ensure they receive the support they need, Strayer University evaluates incoming students’ proficiency in fundamental English and math prior to the first quarter’s registration.

 

International students applying for admission must meet the same admission requirements as other students. Those students whose native language is not English must provide evidence that they are able to use the English language with sufficient facility to perform college-level work in an English-speaking institution.

 

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Tuition and Fees

 

Strayer University charges tuition by the course. Tuition rates may vary in states with specific regulations governing tuition costs. Each course is 4.5 credit hours. As of January 1, 2018, undergraduate tuition is $1,450 per course. Undergraduate students who were previously enrolled at the University are charged rates ranging from $1,420 to $1,775 per course. As of January 1, 2017, graduate students who were new to the University after January 1, 2015, are charged at a rate of $2,450 per course, while other graduate students are charged at a rate of $2,325 per course. For the Jack Welch Management Institute, students who are new to the University are charged at the rate of $3,650 per course. For some students who were previously enrolled in the Jack Welch Management Institute, tuition is charged at rates ranging from $2,580 to $3,450 per course. Under a variety of different programs and in connection with various corporate and government sponsorship and tuition reimbursement arrangements, Strayer University offers scholarships and tuition discounts to students. One of these programs, the Graduation Fund, offers a student in a bachelor’s program an opportunity to earn up to a 25% reduction of the tuition required for a degree. A new undergraduate student, with no transfer credit, seeking to obtain a bachelor’s degree in four years and who was eligible for our Graduation Fund would currently pay on average approximately $11,000 per year in tuition.

 

Career Development Services

 

Although most of Strayer University’s students are already employed, the University actively assists its students and alumni with career-related matters. The focus for Career Services at Strayer University is to provide career guidance and resources to assist students and alumni in reaching their educational and professional goals. Services are delivered through various media including online, in person, recorded video, books, periodicals, and by telephone. The services provided include career webinars, recorded seminars, career teleconferences, career advising, and resume review.

 

We regularly conduct alumni surveys to monitor the career progression of our graduates and to support outcome assessment efforts required by Middle States and state regulators.

 

New York Code and Design Academy

 

We acquired NYCDA in January 2016. NYCDA is a New York City-based provider of non-degree web and application software development courses. Courses are delivered on-ground to students seeking to further their career in software application development, with classes in several major markets across the United States, as well as in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. NYCDA does not participate in Title IV programs. Since its acquisition, NYCDA’s financial results have been insignificant relative to our consolidated financial results.

 

Employees

 

As of December 31, 2017, we had a total of 1,389 full-time employees, including 281 full-time faculty members and 1,108 non-faculty staff. Full-time faculty members teach on average 4-5 courses per quarter. The balance of classes are taught by adjunct faculty who normally teach 1-2 courses per academic quarter. Although we had approximately 1,300 adjunct faculty throughout the year, not all of them teach every quarter. In the 2017 fall quarter, approximately 35% of our courses were taught by full-time faculty. Because we are not a research university, all faculty members are expected to spend their time teaching and advising students. In addition to our faculty, our non-faculty staff, including 155 part-time employees, serve in the areas of information systems, financial aid, recruitment and admissions, student administration, marketing, human resources, corporate accounting, and other administrative functions.

 

Intellectual Property

 

In the ordinary course of business, we develop many kinds of intellectual property that are or will be the subject of copyright, trademark, service mark, patent, trade secret, or other protections. Such intellectual property includes, but is not limited to, our courseware materials for classes taught online or other distance-learning means and business know-how and internal processes and procedures developed to respond to the requirements of our operations and various education regulatory agencies. We also claim rights to certain marks, and have obtained federal registration of the marks, including the mark “STRAYER” for educational services.

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Competition

 

The higher education industry is highly competitive, but fragmented, with no single participant possessing a significant market share. We compete for students with traditional public and private two-year and four-year degree-granting accredited colleges and universities, other proprietary degree-granting accredited schools, and alternatives to higher education. In addition, we face competition from various non-traditional, credit-bearing and noncredit-bearing education programs, provided by both proprietary and not-for-profit providers, including massive open online courses offered worldwide without charge by traditional educational institutions and other direct-to-consumer education services. As the proportion of traditional colleges providing alternative learning modalities increases, we will face increasing competition for students from traditional colleges, including colleges with well-established reputations for excellence. As online learning matures as a modality for education delivery across higher education, we believe that the intensity of the competition we face will continue to increase.

 

We believe the key factors affecting our competitive position include the quality of the programs offered, the quality of other services provided to students, our reputation among students and in the general marketplace, the cost and perceived value of our offerings, the employment rate and terms of employment for our graduates, the ease of access to our offerings, the quality and reputation of our faculty and other employees, the quality of our campus facilities and online platform, the time commitment required to complete our program and obtain a degree, the quality and size of our alumni base, and our relationship with other learning institutions.

 

Regulation

 

Regulatory Environment

 

As an institution of higher education accredited by Middle States and operating in multiple jurisdictions, Strayer University is subject to accreditation rules and varying state licensing and regulatory requirements. In addition, the federal Higher Education Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder require all higher education institutions that participate in the various Title IV programs, including Strayer University, to comply with detailed substantive and reporting requirements, and to undergo periodic regulatory scrutiny. The Higher Education Act mandates specific regulatory responsibility for each of the following components of the higher education regulatory triad: (1) the institutional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education (“Secretary of Education”); (2) state education regulatory bodies; and (3) the federal government through the Department of Education. The regulations, standards, and policies of these regulatory agencies are subject to frequent change. NYCDA is subject to certain state regulatory requirements but is not accredited and does not participate in Title IV programs.

 

The November 2016 federal elections brought a new President and Congress, and we cannot predict the actions that the new Administration or Congress may take or their effect on Strayer University, NYCDA, or the Company. Among other things, the new Congress may reauthorize the Higher Education Act and repeal or amend other legislation affecting higher education institutions. The new Congress or Administration may also delay, block, modify, or eliminate certain Title IV and other regulations applicable to higher education institutions, or the new Administration may promulgate new regulations upon culmination of current negotiated rulemaking processes, or otherwise. In addition, the new Administration may interpret, apply, and enforce Title IV and other regulations in a manner different from current guidance and practice.

 

Department of Education

 

To be eligible to participate in Title IV programs, Strayer University must comply with specific standards and procedures set forth in the Higher Education Act and the regulations issued thereunder by the Department of Education. An institution must, among other things, be authorized to offer its educational programs by each state in which it is physically located and maintain institutional accreditation by a recognized accrediting agency, as discussed below. The institution also must be certified by the Department of Education to participate in Title IV programs and follow Department of Education rules regarding the awarding and processing of funds issued under Title IV programs. For purposes of Title IV programs, Strayer University and all of its campuses are considered to be a single institution of

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higher education, such that Department of Education requirements applicable to an institution of higher education are generally applied to all of Strayer University’s campuses in the aggregate rather than on an individual basis. On October 11, 2017, the Department and Strayer University executed a new Program Participation Agreement, approving Strayer University’s continued participation in Title IV programs with full certification through June 30, 2021.

 

Accreditation

 

Accreditation is a system for recognizing educational institutions for integrity, educational quality, faculty, physical resources, administrative capability, and financial stability that signifies that they merit the confidence of the educational community and the public. In the United States, this recognition comes primarily through private voluntary associations of institutions and programs of higher education. These associations establish criteria for accreditation, conduct peer-review evaluations of institutions and programs, and publicly designate those institutions that meet their standards. Accredited institutions or programs are subject to periodic review by accrediting bodies to determine whether such institutions or programs continue to maintain the performance, integrity, and quality required for accreditation. If an institution’s or program’s performance does not meet its accrediting agency’s (or other regulator’s) expectations or applicable standards, then its operations may be conditioned, severely constrained, or even curtailed, depending on the severity of the noncompliance.

 

Strayer University has been institutionally accredited since 1981 by Middle States, a regional accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of Education. Strayer University went through a period of reaffirmation of accreditation that began in 2015 and lasted through June 2017, when Middle States reaffirmed Strayer University’s accreditation. The University’s period of accreditation by Middle States extends into 2025. Middle States accredits degree-granting public and private colleges and universities in its region (including Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), including distance education programs offered by those institutions. Accreditation by Middle States is an important attribute of Strayer University. Colleges and universities depend on accreditation to evaluate transferability of credit and applications to graduate schools. Employers rely on the accreditation status of institutions when evaluating a candidate’s credentials or considering tuition reimbursement programs. Students rely on accreditation status for assurance that an institution maintains quality educational standards.

 

In order for institutions to be eligible to participate in federal student financial assistance programs, they must be accredited by an institutional accreditor recognized by the Secretary of Education. The Higher Education Act charges the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (“NACIQI”) with recommending to the Secretary of Education which accrediting or state approval agencies should be recognized as reliable authorities for judging the quality of post-secondary institutions and programs. In June 2017, NACIQI renewed its recognition of Middle States for six months and required Middle States to demonstrate compliance with certain requirements. NACIQI reviewed Middle States at its February 2018 meeting and extended its recognition for five years. If an institutional accreditor loses recognition by the Secretary of Education, an institution may be allowed to continue its participation in Title IV programs on a provisional basis for a period not to exceed 18 months to allow the institution to seek accreditation from another recognized accrediting agency. An institution that does not become accredited by another recognized accreditor within 18 months will lose Title IV eligibility.

 

Beginning in 2013, Middle States undertook a review of its accreditation standards and, in June 2014, approved revised accreditation standards, with subsequent editorial clarifications. The new standards are effective for all institutions that have self-studies due beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year. 

 

In 2016, Middle States provided that reaccreditation for all of its institutions will be for a period of eight years (rather than ten, as previously was the case) and that institutions will be required to submit annual reports on student achievement and financial sustainability. In accordance with Middle States’ accreditation standards, every accredited institution will undergo a periodic review at the mid-point between its eight-year evaluations.

 

All of Strayer University’s substantive changes require prior Middle States approval. Such changes include, but are not limited to, certain new educational programs, certain contractual arrangements with other institutions providing a portion of an educational program, establishment or closure of additional locations and branch campuses, and changes in ownership or control.

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In 2000, the agencies that accredit higher education institutions in various regions of the United States adopted a Policy Statement on Evaluation of Institutions Operating Interregionally. Under that policy, both the home regional accreditor and the host regional accreditor cooperate to evaluate an institution that delivers education at a physical site in the host accreditor’s region. Although the home region is solely responsible for final accreditation actions, as Strayer University opens campuses in regions outside Middle States’ region, the host regional accreditors may elect to participate in the accreditation process of such expansion operations.

 

In addition to institutional accreditation, the University has obtained specialized or programmatic accreditation, or professional recognition, from the following organizations for specific programs: the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (“ACBSP”), the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), the National Security Agency’s Committee on National Security Systems, and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (“TEAC”) which was recently consolidated with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education to form the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (“CAEP”). The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Strayer University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, Suite 750, Washington, D.C. 20001, (202) 887-6791.

 

State Education Licensure

 

Licensure of Physical Campuses

 

The Higher Education Act and certain state laws require Strayer University to be legally authorized to provide educational programs in the states in which the University is physically located or demonstrates physical presence as defined by the state. We are authorized to offer programs by the applicable educational regulatory agencies in all states where our physical campuses and online delivery facilities are located. We are dependent upon the authorization of each state where we are physically located to allow us to operate and to grant degrees, diplomas, or certificates to students in those states. We are subject to extensive regulation in each jurisdiction in which our campuses are located, including in 2017: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We will be subject to similar extensive regulation in those additional states in which we may expand our operations in the future. State laws and regulations affect our operations and may limit our ability to introduce educational programs or establish new campuses.

 

On October 29, 2010, the Department of Education adopted new regulations, effective July 1, 2011, that set new requirements on states for their authorization of schools for purposes of Title IV eligibility. We believe that every state above in which Strayer is authorized has processes in place that comply with these requirements.

 

Licensure of Online Programs

 

The increasing popularity and use of the internet and other technology for the delivery of education has led, and may continue to lead, to the adoption of new laws and regulatory practices in the United States or foreign countries or to the interpretation of existing laws and regulations to apply to such services. These new laws and interpretations may relate to issues such as the requirement that online education institutions be licensed as a school in one or more jurisdictions even where they have no physical location. New laws, regulations, or interpretations related to doing business over the internet could increase Strayer University’s cost of doing business, affect its ability to increase enrollments and revenues, or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

In April 2013, the Department of Education announced that it would address state authorization of distance education through negotiated rulemaking. While four negotiated rulemaking sessions were conducted from February through May 2014, no consensus was reached.

 

In June 2016, despite the lack of consensus at the negotiated rulemaking sessions, but as permitted by federal law, the Department of Education issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for public comment on the issue of state authorization for online programs. On December 19, 2016, the Department issued final regulations, which are scheduled

17


 

to become effective on July 1, 2018. On January 30, 2017, the new Administration indicated in a notice published in the Federal Register that it intends to take action in relation to this regulation, but it is unclear what that action will be or when it will be taken. The regulations currently expected to be effective on July 1, 2018, will, among other things, require an institution offering Title IV-eligible distance education or correspondence courses to be authorized by each state in which the institution enrolls students, if such authorization is required by the state. Institutions can obtain such authorization directly from the state or through a state authorization reciprocity agreement. A state authorization reciprocity agreement is defined as an agreement between two or more states that authorizes an institution located and legally authorized in a state covered by the agreement to provide post-secondary education through distance education or correspondence courses to students in other states covered by the agreement and does not prohibit a participating state from enforcing its own laws with respect to higher education. The regulations also require institutions to document the state process for resolving complaints from students enrolled in programs offered through distance education or correspondence courses for each state in which such students reside.

 

In addition, the regulations require an institution to provide public and individualized disclosures to enrolled and prospective students regarding its programs offered solely through distance education or correspondence courses. The public disclosures would include state authorization for the program or course, the process for submitting complaints to relevant states, any adverse actions by a state or accrediting agency related to the distance education program or correspondence course within the past five years, refund policies specific to the state, and applicable licensure or certification requirements for a career that the program prepares a student to enter. An institution must disclose directly to all prospective students if a distance education or correspondence course does not meet the licensure or certification requirements for a state. An institution must disclose to each current and prospective student when an adverse action is taken against a distance education or correspondence program and any determination that a program ceases to meet licensure or certification requirements.

 

If an institution’s distance education program is found not to be in compliance, the institution may lose its ability to award Title IV funds for that distance education program.

 

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement

 

Varying state regulations, fees, and paperwork embedded in the many different state approaches to regulation of post-secondary institutions have limited the ability to grow across state lines to offer students high quality choices for education and have hindered national workforce initiatives. As a solution to the ever-growing complexity of the regulatory oversight of institutions of higher learning on a state-by-state basis, the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (“SARA”) has emerged to aid in the advancement of distance education.

 

SARA is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by post-secondary institutions based in another state, while also facilitating more effective and efficient oversight and monitoring processes nationally for the benefit of states and institutions. On December 2, 2016, Strayer University became a participant in SARA. As a participant in SARA, Strayer University may offer online courses and other forms of distance education to students in any participating SARA state in which Strayer does not have a physical location or a physical presence as defined by the state without having to seek any new state institutional approval beyond its home state (Washington, D.C.). Strayer University’s home state, in turn, will continually monitor the institution’s compliance with SARA standards. With this initiative, Strayer University will be able to expand its distance education offerings with increased consistency and ease.

 

The reciprocity agreement does not affect Strayer University operations that constitute a physical presence in a particular state, and the University will continue to follow individual state regulations for its on-ground campuses and activities. To the extent that such approval is required by state law, the University also must obtain approval from each state that is not a SARA member (i.e., California and Massachusetts) if the University seeks to enroll students from those states in the University’s distance education programs. At this time, SARA does not deal with professional licensing board approval for programs leading to state licensing in fields such as nursing, teacher education, psychology, and the like, and Strayer University must seek such approvals on a state-by-state basis, as needed.

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Other Approvals

 

Strayer University is approved by appropriate authorities for the education of active duty military personnel and qualifying family members, veterans and members of the selected reserve and their spouses and dependents, as well as for the rehabilitation of veterans. In addition, Strayer University is authorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to admit foreign students for study in the United States subject to applicable requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, working with the U.S. Department of State, has implemented a mandatory electronic reporting system for schools that enroll foreign students and exchange visitors. The University is also authorized to participate in state financial aid programs in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Vermont.

 

Financing Student Education

 

Students finance their Strayer University education in a variety of ways, and historically about three quarters of students participated in one or more Title IV programs. Many financial aid programs are designed to assist eligible students whose financial resources are inadequate to meet the cost of education. With these programs, financial aid is awarded on the basis of financial need, generally defined under the Higher Education Act as the difference between the cost of attending a program of study and the amount a student reasonably can be expected to contribute to those expenses. All recipients of federal student financial aid must maintain a satisfactory grade point average (“GPA”) and progress in a timely manner toward completion of a program of study.

 

In addition, many of our working adult students finance their own education or receive full or partial tuition reimbursement from their employers. Congress has enacted several tax credits for students pursuing higher education and has provided for a tax deduction for interest on student loans and exclusions from income of certain tuition reimbursement amounts. Eligible students at Strayer University may also participate in educational assistance programs administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of Florida, the State of Vermont, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) (and related state agencies), the U.S. Department of Defense (“DOD”), and various private organizations.

 

Under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2009 (as amended August 1, 2011), sometimes referred to as the “New GI Bill,” eligible veterans may receive, among other benefits, tuition benefits up to the net cost to the student (after accounting for state and federal aid, scholarships, institutional aid, fee waivers, and similar assistance), subject to a cap of $22,085 for non-public domestic institutions for 2017-2018. In addition, eligible students pursuing an educational program solely through distance learning are eligible to receive a housing stipend equal to half the amount available to students attending certain classroom-based programs or programs that combine classroom learning and distance learning.

 

On August 16, 2017, the President signed into law the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, commonly known as the Forever GI Bill. The law makes several changes to the administration of VA education benefits. Among other things, for service members who left the military after January 1, 2013, the bill removes the requirement that they use their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits within 15 years after their last 90-day period of active-duty service. The bill also alters the way the VA calculates eligibility for VA education benefits by providing additional benefits to service members with at least 90 days but less than six months of active-duty service. Additionally, the bill will restore VA education benefits to students who were enrolled in schools that closed after January 2015 if their credits did not transfer.

 

Strayer University participates in DOD military tuition assistance programs under a Memorandum of Understanding executed on September 5, 2014. Service members of the United States Armed Forces are eligible to receive tuition assistance from their branch of service through the DOD military tuition assistance programs. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the University agrees to comply with DOD rules and procedures regarding the receipt of tuition assistance on behalf of active duty military personnel (and qualifying family members) in attendance at the University.

 

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Title IV Programs

 

Strayer University maintains eligibility for its students to participate in the following Title IV programs:

 

·

Federal Grants. Grants under the Federal Pell Grant program are available to eligible students based on financial need and other factors.

 

·

Campus-Based Programs. The campus-based Title IV programs include the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, the Federal Perkins Loan, and the Federal Work-Study Program. Strayer University does not actively participate in the Perkins Loan or the Federal Work-Study Program. The Perkins Loan Program expired on September 30, 2017.

 

·

Federal Direct Student Loans. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, the Department of Education makes loans directly to students and their parents. Undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for a subsidized loan. The federal government pays the interest on a subsidized loan while the student is in school and during any approved periods of deferment, after which the student’s obligation to repay the loan begins. Unsubsidized loans are available to students who do not qualify for a subsidized loan or, in some cases, in addition to a subsidized loan. PLUS loans, including Graduate PLUS loans, are unsubsidized loans available in amounts up to the total cost of attendance less any other financial aid.

 

Federal Financial Aid Regulation

 

To be eligible to participate in Title IV programs, Strayer University must comply with specific standards and procedures set forth in the Higher Education Act and the regulations issued thereunder by the Department of Education. As part of those participation standards, the Department of Education determines whether, among other things, the institution meets certain standards of administrative capability and financial responsibility. The institution must also follow extensive Department of Education rules regarding the awarding and processing of funds issued under Title IV programs. Some of the key provisions regarding institutional eligibility and processing federal financial aid are described below.

 

Program Participation Agreement

 

Each institution participating in Title IV programs must enter into a Program Participation Agreement with the Department. Under the agreement, the institution agrees to follow the Department’s rules and regulations governing Title IV programs. On October 11, 2017, the Department and Strayer University executed a new Program Participation Agreement, approving Strayer University’s continued participation in Title IV programs with full certification through June 30, 2021.

 

Provisional Certification

 

In certain circumstances, the Department of Education may certify an institution’s continuing eligibility to participate in Title IV programs on a provisional basis for up to three complete award years (July 1 – June 30) from the date of provisional certification. During the period of provisional certification, the institution must comply with any additional conditions included in its program participation agreement. If the Department of Education determines that a provisionally certified institution is unable to meet its responsibilities under its program participation agreement, it may revoke or further condition the institution’s certification to participate in Title IV programs with fewer due process protections for the institution than if it were fully certified. Should the Department of Education revoke eligibility during the provisional period, the institution may request reconsideration and the Secretary of Education’s decision whether or not revocation is warranted constitutes final agency action. Strayer University is operating under full certification.

 

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Administrative Capability

 

Department of Education regulations specify extensive criteria by which an institution must establish that it has the requisite administrative capability to participate in Title IV programs. To meet the administrative capability standards, an institution, among other things, must: (1) comply with all applicable Title IV program regulations; (2) have cohort default rates below specified levels; (3) have various procedures in place for safeguarding federal funds; (4) not be, and not have any principal or affiliate who is debarred or suspended from federal contracting or engaging in activity that is cause for debarment or suspension; (5) submit in a timely manner all reports and financial statements required by the regulations; and (6) not otherwise appear to lack administrative capability.

 

Financial Responsibility

 

The Higher Education Act and Department of Education regulations establish extensive standards of financial responsibility that institutions such as Strayer University must satisfy in order to participate in Title IV programs. These standards generally require that an institution provide the services described in its official publications and statements, properly administer Title IV programs in which it participates, and meet all of its financial obligations, including required refunds and any repayments to the Department of Education for debts and liabilities incurred in programs administered by the Department of Education.

 

Department of Education standards utilize a complex formula to assess financial responsibility. The standards focus on three financial ratios: (1) equity ratio (which measures the institution’s capital resources and ability to borrow); (2) primary reserve ratio (which measures the institution’s financial viability and liquidity); and (3) net income ratio (which measures the institution’s ability to operate at a profit or within its means). An institution’s financial ratios must yield a composite score of at least 1.5 for the institution to be deemed financially responsible without alternative measures and further federal oversight. We have applied the financial responsibility standards to our financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2017, and based on our calculated composite score and other relevant factors, we believe we meet the Department of Education’s financial responsibility standards.

 

On November 1, 2016, the Department of Education released a new regulation, which was scheduled to take effect July 1, 2017, which would make significant changes to the financial responsibility criteria. Under the final regulation, an institution may no longer be considered financially responsible if one or more of a list of “triggering events” occurs. The Department of Education would automatically determine that an institution is not financially responsible if, among other things, the institution receives certain warnings from the SEC, fails to timely file required reports, or has a cohort default rate of 30% or greater for each of the two most recent official calculations. The Department of Education would also determine that an institution is not financially responsible if certain triggering events, such as a lawsuit against the institution, an accrediting agency’s requirement that the institution submit a teach-out plan, or potential loss of Title IV eligibility for gainful employment programs, result in the institution’s recalculated composite score to be less than 1.0. Under the released regulation, the Department of Education could also invoke certain “discretionary” triggering events, such as citation by a state agency or accrediting agency for failure to satisfy the agency’s standards, to determine that an institution is not financially responsible. The Department has delayed until July 1, 2019, the implementation of this regulation, pending the outcome of an ongoing negotiated rulemaking process related to the underlying subject matter. We cannot predict what regulations will be proposed or ultimately will be adopted.

 

Student Loan Defaults

 

Under the Higher Education Act, an educational institution may lose its eligibility to participate in some or all of the Title IV programs if defaults on the repayment of Direct Loan or Federal Family Education Loan (“FFEL”) Program loans by its students exceed certain levels. The Department of Education uses a specific methodology to determine default rates and imposes varying sanctions based upon the results of that calculation. As discussed below, the cohort default rate calculation and threshold for regulatory sanctions changed effective 2014 as a result of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act through the Higher Education Opportunity Act (“HEOA”), which was effective August 18, 2008.

 

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The Department of Education calculates a rate of student defaults (known as a cohort default rate) for each institution with 30 or more borrowers entering repayment in a given federal fiscal year. The Department of Education includes in the cohort all student borrowers at the institution who entered repayment on any Direct or FFEL Program loan during that year. The cohort default rate is the percentage of those borrowers who become subject to their repayment obligation in the relevant federal fiscal year and default by the end of the second federal fiscal year following that fiscal year, resulting in a three-year cohort default rate. Because of the need to collect data on defaults, the Department of Education publishes cohort default rates three years in arrears; for example, in the fall of 2017, the Department of Education issued cohort default rates for federal fiscal year 2014.

 

The Department of Education may take adverse action against an institution if it has excessive cohort default rates, including the following:

 

·

If an institution’s cohort default rate is 30% or more in a given fiscal year, the institution will be required to assemble a “default prevention task force” and submit to the Department of Education a default improvement plan.

 

·

If an institution’s cohort default rate exceeds 30% for two consecutive years, the institution will be required to review, revise, and resubmit its default improvement plan.

 

·

If an institution’s cohort default rate exceeds 30% for two out of three consecutive years, the Department of Education may subject the institution to provisional certification.

 

·

If an institution’s cohort default rate is equal to or greater than 30% for each of the three most recent federal fiscal years for which data are available, the institution will be ineligible to participate in the Direct Loan Program and Federal Pell Grant Program.

 

An institution generally loses eligibility to participate in Title IV programs if its most recent cohort default rate is greater than 40%, and institutions with a cohort default rate equal to or greater than 15% for any of the three most recent fiscal years for which data are available are subject to a 30-day delayed disbursement period for first-year, first-time undergraduate borrowers. Although Strayer has not had a cohort default rate at or above 15% in any of the three most recent fiscal years, Strayer voluntarily disburses Direct Loans in this manner.

 

Strayer’s official three-year cohort default rates for 2012, 2013, and 2014, as well as the average official three-year cohort default rates for proprietary institutions nationally, were as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Average

 

 

    

Strayer University

    

Proprietary Institutions

 

2014

 

13.2%

 

15.5%

 

2013

 

11.3%

 

15.0%

 

2012

 

11.6%

 

15.8%

 

 

As part of its compliance program related to the cohort default rate, Strayer University provides entrance and exit counseling to its students and engages the services of a third party to counsel students once they are in repayment status regarding their repayment obligations.

 

The 90/10 Rule

 

A requirement of the Higher Education Act, commonly referred to as the 90/10 Rule, applies only to proprietary institutions of higher education, which includes Strayer University. Under this rule, a proprietary institution is prohibited from deriving more than 90% of its revenues (as revenues are computed under the Department of Education’s methodology) from Title IV funds on a cash accounting basis (except for certain institutional loans) for any fiscal year.

 

A proprietary institution of higher education that violates the 90/10 Rule for any fiscal year will be placed on provisional certification for up to two fiscal years. Proprietary institutions of higher education that violate the 90/10 Rule

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for two consecutive fiscal years will become ineligible to participate in Title IV programs for at least two fiscal years and will be required to demonstrate compliance with Title IV eligibility and certification requirements for at least two fiscal years prior to resuming Title IV program participation. In addition, the Department of Education discloses on its website any proprietary institution of higher education that fails to meet the 90/10 requirement, and reports annually to Congress the relevant ratios for each proprietary institution of higher education.

 

Using the statutory formula, Strayer University derived approximately 75% of its cash-basis revenues from Title IV program funds in 2016. Our computation for 2017 has not yet been finalized and audited; however, we believe we will remain in compliance with the 90/10 Rule requirement.

 

The key components of non-Title IV revenue for Strayer University are individual student payments, employer tuition reimbursement payments, veterans’ benefits, vocational rehabilitation funds, private loans, state grants, and scholarships. In the past, certain members of Congress have proposed to revise the 90/10 Rule to count DOD tuition assistance and veterans’ education benefits along with Title IV revenue toward the 90% limit and to reduce the limit to 85% of total revenue. In the context of Higher Education Act reauthorization, other members of Congress recently have proposed legislation that would eliminate the 90/10 Rule. We cannot predict whether or how the recent change in Administration and Congress will affect the 90/10 Rule.

 

Incentive Compensation

 

As a part of an institution’s program participation agreement with the Department of Education and in accordance with the Higher Education Act and Title IV regulations, the institution may not provide any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based in any part, directly or indirectly, upon success in securing enrollments or financial aid to any person or entity engaged in any student recruitment, admissions, or financial aid-awarding activity. The rule applies to all employees at an institution who are engaged in or responsible for any student recruitment or admission activity or making decisions regarding the award of financial aid. The Department of Education has interpreted the regulation not to apply to certain high-level employees, including senior managers and executive level employees who are involved only in the development of policy and do not engage in individual student contact. Merit-based adjustments to employee compensation may be made if they are not based in any part, directly or indirectly, upon success in securing enrollments or the award of financial aid.

 

Failure to comply with the incentive payment rule could result in loss of certification to participate in federal student financial aid programs, limitations on participation in the federal student financial aid programs, or financial penalties. In June 2015, the Department of Education announced in a memorandum that it will revise its approach to measuring damages for noncompliance with the incentive payment prohibition. The Department of Education will calculate the amount of institutional liability based on the cost to the Department of the Title IV funds improperly received by the institution, including the cost to the Department of all Title IV funds received by the institution over a period of time if those funds were obtained through implementation of a policy or practice in which students were recruited in violation of the incentive payment prohibition. We believe we are in compliance with the regulation.

 

Gainful Employment

 

Under the Higher Education Act, a proprietary institution offering programs of study other than a baccalaureate degree in liberal arts (for which there is a limited statutory exception) must prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. On October 31, 2014, the Department of Education published final regulations related to gainful employment. The regulation went into effect on July 1, 2015, with the exception of new disclosure requirements, which generally went into effect January 1, 2017, although some portions of those requirements have now been delayed until July 1, 2018. In addition, the Department has convened a new negotiated rulemaking related to gainful employment, and

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has held negotiated rulemaking sessions. We cannot predict what new regulations will be proposed or ultimately will be adopted.

 

The current regulations include two debt-to-earnings measures, consisting of an annual income rate and a discretionary income rate. The annual income rate measures student debt in relation to earnings, and the discretionary income rate measures student debt in relation to discretionary income. A program passes if the program’s graduates:

 

·

have an annual income rate ratio that does not exceed 8%; or

 

·

have a discretionary income rate that does not exceed 20%.

 

In addition, a program that does not pass either of the debt-to-earnings metrics, and that has an annual income rate between 8% and 12% or a discretionary income rate between 20% and 30%, is considered to be in a warning zone. A program fails if the program’s graduates have an annual income rate of 12% or greater and a discretionary income rate of 30% or greater. A program would become Title IV-ineligible for three years if it fails both metrics for two out of three consecutive years, or fails to pass at least one metric for four consecutive award years. The regulations provide a means by which an institution may challenge the Department of Education’s calculation of any of the debt metrics prior to loss of Title IV eligibility.

 

If an institution is notified by the Secretary of Education that a program could become ineligible, based on its final rates, for the next award year:

 

·

the institution must provide a warning with respect to the program to students and prospective students indicating, among other things, that students may not be able to use Title IV funds to attend or continue in the program; and

 

·

the institution must not enroll, register, or enter into a financial commitment with a prospective student until a specified time after providing the warning to the prospective student.

 

On January 8, 2017, Strayer received its final 2015 debt-to-earnings measures. None of Strayer’s programs failed the debt-to-earnings metrics. Two active programs, the Associate in Arts in Accounting and Associate in Arts in Business Administration, are “in the zone,” which means each program remains fully eligible unless (1) either program has a combination of zone and failing designations for four consecutive years, in which case it would become Title IV-ineligible in the fifth year; or (2) either program fails the metrics for two out of three consecutive years, in which case the program could become ineligible for the following award year. The Department has not yet released 2016 debt-to-earnings measures, and it is unclear when the Department intends to do so.

 

The current regulation also requires institutions annually to report student- and program-level data to the Department of Education, and comply with additional disclosure requirements. Final regulations adopted by the Department of Education, which generally became effective on July 1, 2011, require an institution to use a template designed by the Department of Education to disclose to prospective students, with respect to each gainful employment program, occupations that the program prepares students to enter, total cost of the program, on-time graduation rate, job placement rate, if applicable, and the median loan debt of program completers for the most recently completed award year. The regulation that became effective July 1, 2015 expands upon those existing disclosure requirements and institutions were required to comply with the new template by July 1, 2017. Strayer University timely complied by posting information in the new template. On January 19, 2018, the Department of Education released the most recent version of the disclosure template, which institutions must adopt on or before April 6, 2018. Unlike the previous version, the new template does not require institutions to disclose median earnings data or room and board charges. On June 30, 2017, the Department of Education announced that it will allow institutions until July 1, 2018 to comply with certain disclosure requirements in the final regulations, including requirements to include a link to the disclosure template in promotional materials and to distribute directly a copy of the disclosure template to prospective students.

 

In addition, the gainful employment regulation requires institutions to certify, among other things, that each eligible gainful employment program is programmatically accredited if required by a federal governmental entity or a state

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governmental entity of a state in which it is located or is otherwise required to obtain state approval. Institutions also must certify that each eligible program satisfies the applicable educational prerequisites for professional licensure or certification requirements in each state in which it is located or is otherwise required to obtain state approval, so that a student who completes the program and seeks employment in that state qualifies to take any licensure or certification exam that is needed for the student to practice or find employment in an occupation that the program prepares students to enter. The University has timely made the required certification.

 

Under the gainful employment regulation, an institution may establish a new program’s Title IV eligibility by updating the list of the institution’s programs maintained by the Department of Education. However, an institution may not update its list of eligible programs to include a failing or zone program that the institution voluntarily discontinued or became ineligible, or a gainful employment program that is substantially similar to such a program, until three years after the loss of eligibility or discontinuance.

 

The requirements associated with the gainful employment regulations may substantially increase our administrative burdens and could affect our program offerings, student enrollment, persistence, and retention. Further, although the regulations provide opportunities for an institution to correct any potential deficiencies in a program prior to the loss of Title IV eligibility, the continuing eligibility of our academic programs may be affected by factors beyond management’s control, such as changes in our graduates’ employment and income levels, changes in student borrowing levels, increases in interest rates, and various other factors. Even if we were able to correct any deficiency in the gainful employment metrics in a timely manner, the disclosure requirements associated with a program’s failure to meet at least one metric may adversely affect student enrollments in that program and may adversely affect the reputation of our institution.

 

Return of Federal Funds

 

Under the Higher Education Act’s return-of-funds provision, an institution must return Title IV funds to a Title IV program in a timely manner if a student received funds from that program but did not earn them due to the student’s withdrawal from the institution. In order to determine if funds should be returned, the institution must first determine the amount of Title IV program funds that the student earned. If the student attends the institution, but withdraws during the first 60% of any period of enrollment or payment period, the amount of Title IV program funds that the student earned is equal to a pro rata portion of the funds for which the student would otherwise be eligible. Strayer University is required to measure the last day of attendance based on official attendance records, and “attendance” for online classes must include participation in an academically-related activity. Strayer University’s systems allow for measurement on this basis. If the student withdraws after the 60% point, then the student has earned 100% of the Title IV program funds. The institution must return to the appropriate Title IV programs, in a specified order, the lesser of the unearned Title IV program funds or the institutional charges incurred by the student for the period multiplied by the percentage of unearned Title IV program funds. An institution must return the funds no later than 45 days after the date that the institution determines that a student withdrew.

 

If the funds are not returned in a timely manner, an institution may be subject to adverse action, including being required to submit a letter of credit equal to 25% of the refunds the institution should have made in its most recently completed fiscal year. Under Department of Education regulations, if late returns of Title IV program funds constitute 5% or more of students sampled in the institution’s annual compliance audit for either of its two most recently completed fiscal years, an institution generally must submit an irrevocable letter of credit payable to the Secretary of Education.

 

Misrepresentation

 

Under the Higher Education Act, the Department of Education may fine, suspend, or terminate an institution’s participation in Title IV programs if it engages in substantial misrepresentation of the nature of its educational program, its financial charges, or the employability of its graduates. The Program Integrity Regulations, which took effect July 1, 2011, set forth the types of activities that constitute misrepresentation and describe the adverse actions that the Department of Education may take if it finds that an institution or a third party that provides educational programs, marketing, advertising, recruiting, or admissions services to the institution engaged in substantial misrepresentation. The rule specifies the types of statements that can subject the institution to liability for misrepresentation, as well as the

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nature and form of misleading statements. The rule provides that an institution may not describe the eligible institution’s participation in Title IV programs in a manner that suggests Department of Education approval or endorsement of the quality of its educational programs by the Department of Education.

 

On June 5, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the Department of Education’s expansion of the definition of misrepresentation to include “any statement that has the likelihood or tendency to deceive or confuse” was unsupported by law, and thus vacated that portion of the regulation. In response to the court’s ruling, on September 20, 2013, the Department of Education published technical amendments to the regulation. As part of the Department’s 2016 promulgation of the Borrower Defenses to Repayment regulation, the Department changed the definition of misrepresentation for Title IV regulations to include any statement that “has the likelihood or tendency to mislead under the circumstances.” The newly expanded definition also includes “any statement that omits information in such a way as to make the statement false, erroneous, or misleading.” This regulation was published on November 1, 2016 and was scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2017. However, the Department has delayed implementation until July 1, 2019 pending the outcome of ongoing negotiated rulemaking process, which may revisit the definition of misrepresentation. We cannot predict what definition of misrepresentation ultimately will be proposed or adopted.

 

Borrower Defenses

 

Pursuant to the Higher Education Act and following negotiated rulemaking, on November 1, 2016, the Department of Education released a final regulation specifying the acts or omissions of an institution that a borrower may assert as a defense to repayment of a loan made under the Direct Loan Program and the consequences of such borrower defenses for borrowers, institutions, and the Secretary of Education. Under the regulation, for Direct Loans disbursed after July 1, 2017, a student borrower may assert a defense to repayment if: (1) the student borrower obtained a state or federal court judgment against the institution; (2) the institution failed to perform on a contract with the student; and/or (3) the institution committed a “substantial misrepresentation” on which the borrower reasonably relied to his or her detriment. These defenses are asserted through claims submitted to the Department of Education, and the Department has the authority to issue a final decision. In addition, the regulation permits the Department to grant relief to an individual or group of individuals, including individuals who have not applied to the Department seeking relief. If a defense is successfully raised, the Department has discretion to initiate action to collect from an institution the amount of losses incurred based on the borrower defense. The new regulation also amends the rules concerning discharge of federal student loans when a school or campus closes and prohibits pre-dispute arbitration agreements and class action waivers for borrower defense-type claims. On January 19, 2017, the Department of Education issued a final rule with request for comments, updating the hearing procedures for actions to establish liability against an institution of higher education and establishing procedures for recovery proceedings under the borrower defense regulations. On June 16, 2017, the Department of Education announced that in light of the existence and potential consequences of pending litigation that had been brought in federal court to challenge the regulations, it had decided to postpone indefinitely the implementation of certain provisions of the regulations. Also on June 16, 2017, the Department of Education announced its intent to convene a negotiated rulemaking committee to develop proposed regulations and to address certain other related matters. On October 24, 2017, the Department of Education delayed until July 1, 2018 the effective date of the provisions of the regulations identified in the June 16, 2017 notice, and thereafter implemented a further delay until July 1, 2019 pending the outcome of an ongoing negotiated rulemaking process. The negotiated rulemaking committee held meetings in November 2017, January 2018, and February 2018. We cannot predict what new regulations will be proposed or ultimately will be adopted.

 

Third-Party Servicers

 

Department of Education regulations permit an institution to enter into a written contract with a third-party servicer for the administration of any aspect of the institution’s participation in Title IV programs. The third-party servicer must, among other obligations, comply with Title IV requirements and be jointly and severally liable with the institution to the Secretary of Education for any violation by the servicer of any Title IV provision. An institution must report to the Department of Education new contracts or any significant modifications to contracts with third-party servicers as well as other matters related to third-party servicers. Strayer University has written contracts with third-party servicers to perform activities related to Strayer University’s participation in Title IV programs. Strayer University also has a

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contract with Heartland Payment Systems, Inc. for processing stipends due to students. For loan default prevention, Strayer University contracts with i3 Group, LLC. Strayer believes that its third-party servicer contracts comply with the regulations and we have reported such contracts to the Department of Education.

 

Lender Relationships

 

As part of an institution’s program participation agreement with the Department of Education, the institution must adopt a code of conduct pertaining to student loans. Strayer University has a code of conduct that it believes complies with the provisions of the Higher Education Act in all material respects. In addition to the code of conduct requirements that apply to institutions, the Higher Education Act contains provisions that apply to lenders, prohibiting lenders from engaging in certain activities as they interact with institutions.

 

Restrictions on Adding Locations and Educational Programs

 

State requirements and accrediting agency standards can limit or slow the ability of Strayer University to establish legally authorized additional locations and programs. Most states require approval before institutions can add new programs, campuses, or teaching locations. Middle States requires its accredited institutions to notify it in advance of implementing new programs or locations, which may require additional approval. At its discretion, Middle States may also conduct site visits to additional locations to ensure that accredited institutions that experience rapid growth in the number of additional locations, among other reasons, maintain educational quality. All new Strayer University campus locations require Middle States approval before students are enrolled, and the Higher Education Act requires Middle States to monitor institutions with significant enrollment growth. Under Strayer University’s full certification, the Department of Education must be notified within ten days of a new campus location, level of academic offering, and non-degree and degree programs, but prior approval is not required.

 

The Higher Education Act requires proprietary institutions of higher education to be in full operation for two years before qualifying to participate in Title IV programs. However, the applicable regulations in many circumstances permit an institution that is already qualified to participate in Title IV programs to establish additional locations that are exempt from the two-year rule. These additional locations generally may qualify immediately for participation in Title IV programs, unless the location was acquired from another institution that has ceased offering educational programs at that location and has Title IV liabilities that it is not repaying in accordance with an agreement to do so, and the acquiring institution does not agree, among other matters, to be responsible for certain liabilities of the acquired institution. The new location must satisfy all other applicable requirements for institutional eligibility, including approval of the additional location by the relevant state authorizing agency and the institution’s accrediting agency. Any Strayer University expansion plans assume its continued ability to establish new campuses as additional locations of Strayer University under such applicable regulations and thereby avoid incurring the two-year delay in participation in Title IV programs. The loss of state authorization or accreditation of Strayer University or an existing campus, or the failure of Strayer University or a new campus to obtain state authorization or accreditation, would render Strayer University ineligible to participate in Title IV programs, at least in that state or at that location. Department of Education regulations require institutions to report to the Department of Education a new additional location at which at least 50% of an eligible program will be offered, if the institution wants to disburse Title IV program funds to students enrolled at that location. Under its Program Participation Agreement with the Department of Education, Strayer University must notify the Department of Education of the addition of any such location within ten days of opening, but need not seek prior approval. Institutions are responsible for knowing whether they need approval, and institutions that add locations and disburse Title IV program funds without having obtained any necessary approval may be subject to administrative repayments and other sanctions.

 

The gainful employment regulation that became effective July 1, 2015 provides that an institution may establish a new program’s Title IV eligibility by updating the list of the institution’s programs maintained by the Department of Education, and thereby making the certification required by the regulation, as described under Gainful Employment. However, an institution may not update its list of eligible programs to include a failing or zone program that the institution voluntarily discontinued or became ineligible, or a gainful employment program that is substantially similar to such a program, until three years after the loss of eligibility or discontinuance.

 

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Credit Hours

 

The Higher Education Act and regulations use the term “credit hour” to define an eligible program and an academic year and to determine enrollment status and the amount of Title IV program funds an institution may disburse during a payment period. The regulations define the term “credit hour” and require accrediting agencies to review the reliability and accuracy of an institution’s credit hour assignments. If an accreditor does not comply with this requirement, its recognition by the Department of Education could be jeopardized. If an accreditor identifies systematic or significant noncompliance in one or more of an institution’s programs, the accreditor must notify the Secretary of Education. If the Department of Education determines that an institution is out of compliance with the credit hour definition, the Department of Education could impose liabilities or other sanctions.

 

Other Regulations Governing Title IV Programs

 

The Department of Education has enacted a comprehensive set of regulations governing an institution’s participation in Title IV programs. If Strayer University were not to continue to comply with these regulations, such noncompliance might affect the operations of the University and its ability to participate in Title IV programs.

 

The Clery Act

 

Strayer University must comply with the campus safety and security reporting requirements as well as other requirements in the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the “Clery Act”). In addition, the Department has interpreted Title IX to categorize sexual violence as a form of prohibited sex discrimination and to require institutions to follow certain disciplinary procedures with respect to such offenses. Failure by Strayer University to comply with the Clery Act or Title IX requirements or regulations thereunder could result in action by the Department fining Strayer University, or limiting or suspending its participating in Title IV programs, could lead to litigation, and could harm Strayer University’s reputation. We believe that Strayer University is in compliance with these requirements.

 

Compliance Reviews

 

Strayer University is subject to announced and unannounced compliance reviews and audits by various external agencies, including the Department of Education, its Office of Inspector General, state licensing agencies, guaranty agencies, and accrediting agencies. The Higher Education Act and Department of Education regulations also require an institution to submit annually to the Secretary of Education a compliance audit of its administration of Title IV programs conducted by an independent certified public accountant in accordance with Government Auditing Standards and applicable audit guides of the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (“ED OIG”).  For fiscal years beginning after June 30, 2016, Strayer University must submit such audits that have been conducted in accordance with a revised guide for audits of proprietary schools that was issued by the ED OIG in September 2016. In addition, to enable the Secretary of Education to make a determination of financial responsibility, an institution must submit annually to the Secretary of Education audited financial statements prepared in accordance with Department of Education regulations.

 

In 2014, the Department of Education conducted four campus-based program reviews of Strayer University locations in three states and the District of Columbia. The reviews covered federal financial aid years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, and two of the reviews also covered compliance with the Clery Act, the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, and regulations related thereto. For three of the program reviews, we received correspondence from the Department closing the program reviews with no further action required by us. For the other program review, the University received a Final Program Review Determination Letter closing the review and identifying a payment of less than $500 due to the Department of Education based on an underpayment on a return to Title IV calculation. The University remitted payment, and received a letter from the Department indicating that no further action was required and that the matter was closed.

 

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Potential Effect of Regulatory Violations

 

If Strayer University fails to comply with the regulatory standards governing Title IV programs, the Department of Education could impose one or more sanctions, including transferring Strayer University from the advance payment method to the reimbursement or cash monitoring system of payment, seeking to require repayment of certain Title IV funds, requiring the University to post a letter of credit in favor of the Department of Education as a condition for continued Title IV certification, taking emergency action against the University, or referring the matter for criminal prosecution or initiating proceedings to impose a fine or to limit, condition, suspend, or terminate Strayer University’s participation in Title IV programs. Although there are no such sanctions currently in force, if such sanctions or proceedings were imposed against Strayer University and resulted in a substantial curtailment, or termination, of the University’s participation in Title IV programs or resulted in substantial fines or monetary liabilities, Strayer University would be materially and adversely affected.

 

If Strayer University lost its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, or if Congress reduced the amount of available federal student financial aid, the University would seek to arrange or provide alternative sources of revenue or financial aid for students. Although the University believes that one or more private organizations would be willing to provide financial assistance to students attending Strayer University, there is no assurance that this would be the case, and the interest rate and other terms of such student financial aid are unlikely to be as favorable as those for Title IV program funds. Strayer University might be required to guarantee all or part of such alternative assistance in a manner that complies with rules governing schools’ relationships with lenders or might incur other additional costs in connection with securing alternative sources of financial aid. Accordingly, the loss of eligibility of Strayer University to participate in Title IV programs, or a reduction in the amount of available federal student financial aid, would be expected to have a material adverse effect on Strayer University, even if it could arrange or provide alternative sources of revenue or student financial aid.

 

In addition to the actions that may be brought against us as a result of our participation in Title IV programs, we also may be subject, from time to time, to complaints and lawsuits relating to regulatory compliance brought not only by our regulatory agencies, but also by other government agencies and third parties.

 

Change in Ownership Resulting in a Change of Control

 

Many states and accrediting agencies require institutions of higher education to report or obtain approval of certain changes in ownership or other aspects of institutional status, but the types of and triggers for such reporting or approval vary among states and accrediting agencies. Strayer University’s accrediting agency, Middle States, requires institutions that it accredits to inform it in advance of any substantive change, including a change that significantly alters the ownership or control of the institution. Examples of substantive changes requiring advance notice to, and approval by Middle States include changes in the legal status, ownership, or form of control of the institution, such as the sale of a proprietary institution. Middle States must approve a substantive change in advance in order to include the change in the institution’s accreditation status. Middle States will undertake a site visit to an institution that has undergone a change in ownership or control no later than six months after the change.

 

Federal agencies also regulate changes in ownership and control. The Higher Education Act provides that an institution that undergoes a change in ownership resulting in a change of control loses its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs and must apply to the Department of Education in order to reestablish such eligibility. An institution is ineligible to receive Title IV program funds during the period from the change of ownership and control until recertification. The Higher Education Act provides that the Department of Education may temporarily, provisionally certify an institution seeking approval of a change of ownership and control based on preliminary review by the Department of Education of a materially complete application received by the Department of Education within ten business days after the transaction. The Department of Education may continue such temporary, provisional certification on a month-to-month basis until it has rendered a final decision on the institution’s application. If the Department of Education approves the application after a change in ownership and control, it issues a provisional certification, which extends for a period expiring not later than the end of the third complete award year following the date of provisional certification. The Higher Education Act defines one of the events that would trigger a change in ownership resulting in a change of control as the transfer of the controlling interest of the stock of the institution or its parent corporation. For a

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publicly traded corporation such as Strayer Education, Inc., the Department of Education regulations define a change of control as occurring when a person or entity acquires ownership and control of a corporation, such that the corporation is required to file a Form 8-K with the SEC publicly disclosing the change of control. The regulations also provide that a change in ownership and control of a publicly traded corporation occurs if a person or entity who is a controlling stockholder of the corporation ceases to be a controlling stockholder. A controlling stockholder is a stockholder who holds, or controls through agreement, at least 25% of the total outstanding voting stock of the corporation and more shares of voting stock than any other stockholder.

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, working with the U.S. Department of State, has implemented a mandatory electronic reporting system for schools that enroll foreign students and exchange visitors. Strayer University currently is authorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to admit foreign students for study in the United States subject to applicable requirements. In certain circumstances, the Department of Homeland Security may require an institution to obtain approval for a change in ownership and control.

 

Pursuant to federal law providing benefits for veterans and reservists, some of the programs offered by Strayer University are approved by state approving agencies for the enrollment of persons eligible to receive U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs educational benefits. In 2017, we had such approval in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C. In certain circumstances, state approving agencies may require an institution to obtain approval for a change in ownership and control.

 

If Strayer University underwent a change of control that required approval by any state authority, Middle States, or any federal agency, and such approval were significantly delayed, limited, or denied, there could be a material adverse effect on Strayer University’s ability to offer certain educational programs, award certain degrees, diplomas, or certificates, operate one or more of its locations, admit certain students, or participate in Title IV programs, which in turn, could materially and adversely affect Strayer University’s operations. A change that required approval by a state regulatory authority, Middle States, or a federal agency could also delay Strayer University’s ability to establish new campuses or educational programs and may have other adverse regulatory effects. Furthermore, the suspension from Title IV programs and the necessity of obtaining regulatory approvals in connection with a change of control could materially limit Strayer University’s flexibility in future financing or acquisition transactions.

 

Legislative and Regulatory Activity

 

Congress, from time to time, considers legislation that would make changes in the Higher Education Act and other education-related federal laws. The Department of Education and other federal agencies similarly consider new regulations and regulatory amendments. State legislatures and agencies and accreditors likewise periodically change their laws, regulations, and standards. Such activity may adversely affect enrollment in for-profit educational institutions. Although legislative and regulatory activity in recent years has had a negative impact on the for-profit post-secondary education industry as a whole, we cannot predict the impact of recent, pending, or possible future legislative or regulatory changes, if any, on our long-term business model.

 

Congress

 

Congress historically has reauthorized the Higher Education Act (“HEA”), which is the law governing Title IV programs, approximately every five to six years. In 2008, Congress reauthorized the HEA through the end of 2013. Congress has held hearings regarding the reauthorization of the HEA and continued to consider new legislation regarding the passage thereof. Despite inaction on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, Congress extended funding for Title IV through September 30, 2018, through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017. In December 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce considered and passed out of committee the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform Act, or PROSPER Act, to reauthorize the HEA. In its current form, the PROSPER Act would make dramatic changes to the HEA by, among other things, eliminating the 90/10 Rule, eliminating regulation of gainful employment programs, and replacing current accountability metrics linked to cohort default rates with metrics linked to timely loan repayment. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions has begun to hold hearings on the HEA reauthorization, and the Chairman has

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issued a white paper including a number of policy proposals for consideration. We cannot predict what the final reauthorization will or will not do, or when or how it will be enacted, or its effects on Strayer University.

 

Congress continues to show interest in regulation and oversight of institutions of higher education, especially proprietary institutions. For example, on February 13, 2017, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the legislation that would amend the HEA to modify required consumer information disclosures related to completion graduation rates by expanding such disclosure requirements to include information about additional categories of students. On March 20, 2017, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced legislation that would amend loan counseling requirements under the HEA. On April 7, 2017, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced legislation that would add mandatory disclosure requirements to an institution’s financial aid offer form and require use of a standardized form. We cannot predict whether these or similar bills, and others affecting our business, will be introduced or will pass or what, if any, impact they would have on our business.

 

Appropriations

 

Congress reviews and determines appropriations for Title IV programs on an annual basis. An elimination of certain Title IV programs, a reduction in federal funding levels of such programs, material changes in the requirements for participation in such programs, or the substitution of materially different programs could reduce the ability of certain students to finance their education. This, in turn, could lead to lower enrollments at Strayer University or require us to increase our reliance upon alternative sources of student financial aid. Given the significant percentage of our revenues that are derived indirectly from Title IV programs, the loss of, or a significant reduction in Title IV program funds available to our students could have a material adverse effect on Strayer University.

 

Beginning July 1, 2017, in accordance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, institutions that participate in the Title IV programs may award Pell Grant funds for up to 150% of a student’s standard scheduled Pell Grant in one award year. This provision, which commonly is referred to as “year-round Pell,” is intended to allow students to graduate more quickly and with less debt. To be eligible for the additional Pell Grant funds, a student must be otherwise eligible to receive Pell Grant funds and must be enrolled at least half-time in the payment period for which the student receives additional Pell Grant funds in excess of 100% of the student’s standard scheduled award.

 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has pursued enforcement actions against certain proprietary institutions of higher education and has released several reports that directly address issues related to institutions of higher education. In October 2017, the CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman released its annual report analyzing more than 7,700 complaints the CFPB received from private student loan borrowers between September 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017 and more than 2,300 federal student loan financing complaints the CFPB received from federal student loan borrowers. We do not know what steps the CFPB or Congress may take in response to these actions and whether such actions, if any, will have an adverse effect on our business or results of operations.

 

U.S. Department of Education

 

Title IV regulations applicable to Strayer University have been subject to frequent revisions, many of which have increased the level of scrutiny to which higher education institutions are subjected and have raised applicable standards. In addition to those regulations discussed above, on October 30, 2015, the Department of Education also published final regulations creating a new income-contingent repayment plan and implementing changes to streamline and enhance existing processes for borrowers. The regulations were effective July 1, 2016.

 

On February 8, 2016, the Department of Education announced the creation of a Student Aid Enforcement Unit to enable the Department to respond more quickly and efficiently to allegations of illegal actions by higher education institutions. The Enforcement Unit consists of four divisions, including an Investigations Group, a Borrower Defense Group, an Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group, and a Clery Group. The Enforcement Unit is designed to enable the Department to support more reviews of high-risk institutions, respond to concerns raised by states’ and other federal agencies’ investigations, and respond to complaints and claims for loan forgiveness by students. In August 2017,

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the Department of Education announced a new leader of the Enforcement Unit, who will report to the head of the Department’s Compliance Unit.

 

College Affordability and Transparency Lists

 

The Department of Education publishes on its website lists of the top 5% of institutions, in each of nine categories, with (1) the highest tuition and fees for the most recent academic year, (2) the highest “net price” for the most recent academic year, (3) the largest percentage increase in tuition and fees for the most recent three academic years, and (4) the largest percentage increase in net price for the most recent three academic years. An institution that is placed on a list for high percentage increases in either tuition and fees or in net price must submit a report to the Department of Education explaining the increases and the steps that it intends to take to reduce costs. The Department of Education will report annually to Congress on these institutions and will publish their reports on its website. The Department of Education also posts lists of the top 10% of institutions in each of the nine categories with lowest tuition and fees or the lowest net price for the most recent academic year. Under HEOA, net price means average yearly price actually charged to first-time, full-time undergraduate students who receive student aid at a higher education institution after such aid is deducted.

 

College Scorecard

 

On December 19, 2014, the Department of Education issued a framework for a college ratings system, which was to include predominantly four-year and two-year institutions. On June 25, 2015, the Department of Education stated that in lieu of the previously announced college ratings system, it would instead create a consumer-driven website that will allow users to compare colleges based on measures that may be of importance to them. In September 2015, the Department of Education publicly released its “College Scorecard” website. Among other characteristics, the College Scorecard allows users to search for schools based upon programs offered, location, size, tax status, mission, and religious affiliation. In October 2017, the Department of Education announced that its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, would publish for the first time completion data for part-time and non-first-time students, which will provide additional information about institutions’ performance.

 

Executive Order on Military and Veterans Benefits Programs

 

In April 2012, President Obama issued an Executive Order directing the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, along with other Executive Branch agencies, to implement actions to establish “Principles of Excellence” to apply to educational institutions receiving funding from federal military and veterans educational benefits programs, including benefits programs provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the military tuition assistance program. The Principles of Excellence relate broadly to information regarding tuition and fees, academic quality, marketing, and state authorization requirements. The Principles of Excellence require federal agencies to create a centralized complaint system for students receiving federal military and veterans educational benefits to register complaints that relevant agencies can track and address. On January 30, 2014, the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education, and Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), in collaboration with the CFPB and the U.S. Department of Justice, announced a new online student complaint system for service members, veterans, and their families to report negative experiences at education institutions and training programs administering the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Department of Defense tuition assistance programs, and other military-related education benefit programs.

 

Additional Information

 

We maintain a website at www.strayereducation.com. The information on our website is not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our web address is included as an inactive textual reference only. We make available on our website our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC.

 

The Form 10-K and other reports filed with the SEC can be read or copied at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549. Information on the operation of the Public Reference Room can be

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obtained by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC; the website address is www.sec.gov.

 

Item 1A.    Risk Factors

 

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the following risk factors and all other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K or in the documents incorporated by reference herein before making an investment decision. The occurrence of any of the following risks could materially harm our business, adversely affect the market price of our common stock and could cause you to suffer a partial or complete loss of your investment. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also materially harm our business and operations. See “Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”

 

Risks Related to Extensive Regulation of Our Business

 

If we fail to comply with the extensive regulatory requirements for our business, we could face significant monetary liabilities, fines and penalties, including loss of access to federal student loans and grants for our students.

 

As a provider of higher education, we are subject to extensive regulation on both the federal and state levels. In particular, the Higher Education Act and related regulations subject Strayer University and all other higher education institutions that participate in the various Title IV programs to significant regulatory scrutiny.

 

The Higher Education Act mandates specific regulatory responsibilities for each of the following components of the higher education regulatory triad: (1) the federal government through the Department of Education; (2) the accrediting agencies recognized by the Secretary of Education; and (3) state education regulatory bodies. In addition, other federal agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission, and various state agencies and state attorneys general enforce consumer protection laws applicable to post-secondary educational institutions.

 

The regulations, standards, and policies of these regulatory agencies frequently change, and changes in, or new interpretations of, applicable laws, regulations, standards, or policies could have a material adverse effect on our accreditation, authorization to operate in various states, permissible activities, receipt of funds under Title IV programs, or costs of doing business.

 

Title IV requirements are enforced by the Department of Education and, in some instances, by private plaintiffs. If we are found not to be in compliance with these laws, regulations, standards, or policies, we could lose our access to Title IV program funds, which would have a material adverse effect on our business. Findings of noncompliance also could result in our being required to pay monetary damages, or being subjected to fines, penalties, injunctions, restrictions on our access to Title IV program funds, or other censure that could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Our failure to comply with the Department of Education’s gainful employment regulations could result in heightened disclosure requirements and loss of Title IV eligibility.

 

To be eligible for Title IV funding, academic programs offered by proprietary institutions of higher education must prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. On October 31, 2014, the Department of Education published the final regulations on gainful employment, which, with the exception of certain disclosure requirements, generally became effective July 1, 2015. The regulations include two debt-to-earnings measures, consisting of an annual income rate and a discretionary income rate. The annual income rate measures student debt in relation to earnings, and the discretionary income rate measures student debt in relation to discretionary income. A program passes if the program’s graduates:

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·

Have an annual income rate that does not exceed 8%; or

 

·

Have a discretionary income rate that does not exceed 20%.

 

A program that does not pass either of the debt-to-earnings metrics, and that has an annual income rate between 8% and 12%, or a discretionary income rate between 20% and 30%, is considered to be in a warning zone. A program fails if the program’s graduates have an annual income rate of 12% or greater and a discretionary income rate of 30% or greater. A program would become Title IV-ineligible for three years if it failed both metrics for two out of three consecutive years, or fails to pass at least one metric for four consecutive award years. The regulations provide a means by which an institution may challenge the Department of Education’s calculation of any of the debt metrics prior to loss of Title IV eligibility.

 

The requirements associated with the gainful employment regulations may substantially increase our administrative burdens and could affect our program offerings, student enrollment, persistence, and retention. Further, although the regulations provide opportunities for an institution to correct any potential deficiencies in a program prior to the loss of Title IV eligibility, the continuing eligibility of our academic programs will be affected by factors beyond management’s control, such as changes in our graduates’ employment and income levels, changes in student borrowing levels, increases in interest rates, and various other factors. Even if we were able to correct any deficiency in the gainful employment metrics in a timely manner, the disclosure requirements associated with a program’s failure to meet at least one metric may adversely affect student enrollments in that program and may adversely affect the reputation of our institution.

 

On June 16, 2017, the Department of Education announced that it would convene a negotiated rulemaking committee to develop proposed regulations to revise the gainful employment regulations. The negotiated rulemaking committee held meetings in December 2017 and February 2018 and is scheduled to meet again in March 2018. We cannot predict what regulations will be proposed or ultimately adopted.

 

Congressional examination of for-profit post-secondary education could lead to legislation or other governmental action that may negatively affect the industry.

 

Since 2010, Congress has increased its focus on for-profit higher education institutions, including regarding participation in Title IV programs and oversight by the Department of Defense of tuition assistance and by the Veterans Administration of veterans education benefits for military service members and veterans, respectively, attending for-profit colleges. The Senate HELP Committee and other congressional committees have held hearings into, among other things, the proprietary education sector and its participation in Title IV programs, the standards and procedures of accrediting agencies, credit hours and program length, the portion of federal student financial aid going to proprietary institutions, and the receipt of veterans and military education benefits by students enrolled at proprietary institutions. Strayer University has cooperated with these inquiries. A number of legislators have variously requested the Government Accountability Office to review and make recommendations regarding, among other things, recruitment practices, educational quality, student outcomes, the sufficiency of integrity safeguards against waste, fraud, and abuse in Title IV programs, and the percentage of proprietary institutions’ revenue coming from Title IV and other federal funding sources.

 

This activity may result in legislation, further rulemaking affecting participation in Title IV programs, and other governmental actions. In addition, concerns generated by congressional activity may adversely affect enrollment in, and revenues of for-profit educational institutions. Limitations on the amount of federal student financial aid for which our students are eligible under Title IV could materially and adversely affect our business.

 

We are dependent on the renewal and maintenance of Title IV programs.

 

The Higher Education Act, which is the law authorizing Title IV programs, is subject to periodic reauthorization. Congress completed the most recent reauthorization through multiple pieces of legislation and may reauthorize the HEA in a piecemeal manner in the future. Additionally, Congress determines the funding level for each Title IV program on an annual basis. Any action by Congress that significantly reduces funding for Title IV programs or the ability of our school or students to participate in these programs could materially harm our business. A reduction in government

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funding levels could lead to lower enrollments at our school and require us to arrange for alternative sources of financial aid for our students. Lower student enrollments or our inability to arrange such alternative sources of funding could adversely affect our business.

 

We are subject to compliance reviews, which, if they resulted in a material finding of noncompliance, could affect our ability to participate in Title IV programs.

 

Because we operate in a highly regulated industry, we are subject to compliance reviews and claims of noncompliance and related lawsuits by government agencies, accrediting agencies, and third parties, including claims brought by third parties on behalf of the federal government. For example, the Department of Education regularly conducts program reviews of educational institutions that are participating in Title IV programs, and the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education regularly conducts audits and investigations of such institutions. The Department of Education could limit, suspend, or terminate our participation in Title IV programs or impose other penalties such as requiring us to make refunds, pay liabilities, or pay an administrative fine upon a material finding of noncompliance.

 

In 2014, the Department of Education conducted four campus-based program reviews of Strayer University locations in three states and the District of Columbia.  The reviews covered federal financial aid years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, and two of the reviews also covered compliance with the Clery Act, the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, and regulations related thereto. For three of the program reviews, we received correspondence from the Department closing the program reviews with no further action required by us. For the other program review, the University received a Final Program Review Determination Letter closing the review and identifying a payment of less than $500 due to the Department of Education based on an underpayment on a return to Title IV calculation. The University remitted payment, and received a letter from the Department on May 26, 2015, indicating that no further action was required and that the matter was closed.

 

On October 11, 2017, the Department and Strayer University executed a new Program Participation Agreement, approving Strayer University’s continued participation in Title IV programs with full certification through June 30, 2021.

 

If we fail to maintain our institutional accreditation or if our institutional accrediting body loses recognition by the Department of Education, we would lose our ability to participate in Title IV programs.

 

The loss of Strayer University’s accreditation by Middle States or Middle States’ loss of recognition by the Department of Education would render Strayer University ineligible to participate in Title IV programs and would have a material adverse effect on our business. In addition, an adverse action by Middle States other than loss of accreditation, such as issuance of a warning, could have a material adverse effect on our business. In November 2015, the Department of Education announced a set of executive actions and legislative proposals to increase transparency and rigor in accreditation. On January 20, 2016, the Department of Education issued additional recommendations related to accreditation.

 

The Higher Education Act charges the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (“NACIQI”) with recommending to the Secretary of Education which accrediting or state approval agencies should be recognized as reliable authorities for judging the quality of post-secondary institutions and programs. In June 2017, NACIQI renewed its recognition of Middle States for six months and required Middle States to demonstrate compliance with certain requirements. NACIQI reviewed Middle States at its February 2018 meeting and extended its recognition for five years. On September 22, 2016, the Department of Education rescinded its recognition of the Accreditation Council of Independent Colleges and Schools. Increased scrutiny of accreditors by the Secretary of Education in connection with the Department of Education’s recognition process may result in increased scrutiny of institutions by accreditors or have other adverse consequences.

 

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If we fail to maintain any of our state authorizations, we would lose our ability to operate in that state and to participate in Title IV programs there.

 

Each Strayer University campus is authorized to operate and to grant degrees, diplomas, or certificates by the applicable education agency or agencies of the state where the campus is located. Such state authorization is required for students at the campus to participate in Title IV programs. The loss of state authorization would, among other things, render Strayer University ineligible to participate in Title IV programs at least at those state campus locations, limit Strayer University’s ability to operate in that state and could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Effective July 1, 2011, Department of Education regulations provide that an institution is considered legally authorized by a state if the state has a process to review and appropriately act on complaints concerning the institution, including enforcing applicable state laws, and the institution complies with any applicable state approval or licensure requirements consistent with the new rules. If a state in which Strayer has a physical campus fails to comply in the future with the provisions of the new rule or fails to provide the University with legal authorization, it could limit Strayer University’s ability to operate in that state and have a material adverse effect on our operations.

 

On December 19, 2016, the Department of Education published final regulations addressing, among other issues, state authorization of programs offered through distance education. The final regulations, which are effective July 1, 2018, require an institution offering distance education programs to be authorized by each state in which the institution enrolls students, if such authorization is required by the state, in order to award Title IV aid to such students. An institution could obtain such authorization directly from the state or through a state authorization reciprocity agreement. On January 30, 2017, the Department of Education announced that it intends to take unspecified regulatory actions regarding certain regulations that have been published but have not yet taken effect, including regulations related to state authorization of distance education. As of February 2018, the Department had taken no action with respect to the state authorization of distance education regulations. If one of our institutions fails to obtain or maintain required state authorization to provide post-secondary distance education in a specific state, the institution could lose its ability to award Title IV aid to online students in that state and could lose its ability to provide distance education in that state.

 

Strayer University participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (“SARA”), which allows the University to enroll students in distance education programs in each SARA member state. Strayer University applies separately to non-SARA member states for authorization to enroll students, if such authorization is required by the state. If Strayer University failed to comply with the requirements to participate in SARA or state licensing or authorization requirements to provide distance education in a non-SARA state, the University could lose its ability to participate in SARA or may be subject to the loss of state licensure or authorization to provide distance education in that non-SARA state, respectively.

 

If we fail to obtain recertification by the Department of Education when required, we would lose our ability to participate in Title IV programs.

 

An institution generally must seek recertification from the Department of Education at least every six years and possibly more frequently depending on various factors, such as whether it is provisionally certified. The Department of Education may also review an institution’s continued eligibility and certification to participate in Title IV programs, or scope of eligibility and certification, in the event the institution undergoes a change in ownership resulting in a change of control or expands its activities in certain ways, such as the addition of certain types of new programs, or, in certain cases, changes to the academic credentials that it offers. In certain circumstances, the Department of Education must provisionally certify an institution. The Department of Education may withdraw our certification if it determines that we are not fulfilling material requirements for continued participation in Title IV programs. If the Department of Education does not renew, or withdraws our certification to participate in Title IV programs, our students would no longer be able to receive Title IV program funds, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Each institution participating in Title IV programs must enter into a Program Participation Agreement with the Department of Education. Under the agreement, the institution agrees to follow the Department of Education’s rules and regulations governing Title IV programs. On October 11, 2017, the Department and Strayer University executed a new

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Program Participation Agreement, approving Strayer University’s continued participation in Title IV programs with full certification through June 30, 2021.

 

A failure to demonstrate financial responsibility or administrative capability may result in the loss of eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.

 

To be eligible to participate in Title IV programs, Strayer University must comply with specific standards and procedures set forth in the Higher Education Act and the regulations issued thereunder by the Department of Education, including, among other things, certain standards of financial responsibility and administrative capability. If we fail to demonstrate financial responsibility or maintain administrative capability under the Department of Education’s regulations, we could lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs or have that eligibility adversely conditioned, which would have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Student loan defaults could result in the loss of eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.

 

In general, under the Higher Education Act, an educational institution may lose its eligibility to participate in some or all Title IV programs if, for three consecutive federal fiscal years, 30% or more of its students who were required to begin repaying their student loans in the relevant federal fiscal year default on their payment by the end of the second federal fiscal year following that fiscal year. Institutions with a cohort default rate equal to or greater than 15% for any of the three most recent fiscal years for which data are available are subject to a 30-day delayed disbursement period for first-year, first-time borrowers. While its cohort default rate for 2014 was 13.2%, Strayer University voluntarily delays disbursement of Direct Loans in this manner. In addition, an institution may lose its eligibility to participate in some or all Title IV programs if its default rate for a federal fiscal year was greater than 40%.

 

If we lose eligibility to participate in Title IV programs because of high student loan default rates, it would have a material adverse effect on our business. Strayer University’s three-year cohort default rates for federal fiscal years 2012, 2013 and 2014, were 11.6%, 11.3%, and 13.2%, respectively. The average official cohort default rates for proprietary institutions nationally were 15.8%, 15.0%, and 15.5% for federal fiscal years 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively.

 

Strayer University could lose its eligibility to participate in federal student financial aid programs or be provisionally certified with respect to such participation if the percentage of our revenues derived from those programs were too high.

 

A proprietary institution may lose its eligibility to participate in the federal Title IV student financial aid program if it derives more than 90% of its revenues, on a cash basis, from Title IV programs for two consecutive fiscal years. A proprietary institution of higher education that violates the 90/10 Rule for any fiscal year will be placed on provisional status for up to two fiscal years. Using the formula specified in the Higher Education Act, we derived approximately 75% of our cash-basis revenues from these programs in 2016.  Our computation for 2017 has not yet been finalized and audited; however, we believe we will remain in compliance with the 90/10 Rule requirement. Certain members of Congress have proposed to revise the 90/10 Rule to count tuition assistance provided by the Department of Defense and veterans education benefits, along with Title IV revenue, toward the 90% limit and to reduce the limit to 85% of total revenue. Such proposals could make it difficult for us to comply with the 90/10 rule. If we were to violate the 90/10 Rule, the loss of eligibility to participate in the federal student financial aid programs would have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Our failure to comply with the Department of Education’s incentive compensation rules could result in sanctions and other liability.

 

If we pay a bonus, commission, or other incentive payment in violation of applicable Department of Education rules or if the Department of Education or other third parties interpret our compensation practices as such, we could be subject to sanctions or other liability, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

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Our failure to comply with the Department of Education’s misrepresentation rules could result in sanctions and other liability.

 

The Higher Education Act prohibits an institution that participates in Title IV programs from engaging in “substantial misrepresentation” of the nature of its educational program, its financial charges, or the employability of its graduates. The Department of Education’s Program Integrity Regulations, which took effect July 1, 2011, interpret this provision to prohibit any statement on those topics made by the institution or a third party that provides educational programs, marketing, advertising, recruiting, or admissions services to the institution that has the likelihood or tendency to confuse. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held on June 5, 2012, that the term “substantial misrepresentation” could not include true, nondeceitful statements that are merely confusing. Final regulations to expand the definition of misrepresentation to include “any statement that has the likelihood or tendency to mislead under the circumstances” were scheduled to take effect July 1, 2017. The definition also would have been expanded to include “any statement that omits information in such a way as to make the statement false, erroneous, or misleading.” On June 16, 2017, the Department of Education announced that it had decided to postpone indefinitely the implementation of certain provisions, including the revised definition. The Department has delayed implementation until July 1, 2019.  

 

In the event of substantial misrepresentation, the Department of Education may revoke an institution’s program participation agreement, limit the institution’s participation in Title IV programs, deny applications from the institution, such as to add new programs or locations, initiate proceedings to fine the institution or limit, suspend, or terminate its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. If the Department of Education or other third parties interpret statements made by us or on our behalf to be in violation of the new regulations, we could be subject to sanctions and other liability, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Our failure to comply with the Department of Education’s credit hour rule could result in sanctions and other liability.

 

Effective July 1, 2011, Title IV regulations define the term “credit hour” and require accrediting agencies and state authorization agencies to review the reliability and accuracy of an institution’s credit hour assignments. If an accreditor does not comply with this requirement, its recognition by the Department of Education could be jeopardized. If an accreditor identifies systematic or significant noncompliance in one or more of an institution’s programs, the accreditor must notify the Secretary of Education. If the Department of Education determines that an institution is out of compliance with the credit hour definition, the Department of Education could impose liabilities or other sanctions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Our failure to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 could result in sanctions and other liability.

 

Strayer University must comply with the campus safety and security reporting requirements as well as other requirements in the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (“Clery Act”), including changes made to the Clery Act by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. On October 20, 2014, the Department of Education promulgated final regulations implementing amendments to the Clery Act. In addition, the Department of Education has interpreted Title IX to categorize sexual violence as a form of prohibited sex discrimination and to require institutions to follow certain disciplinary procedures with respect to such offenses. Failure to comply with the Clery Act or Title IX requirements or regulations thereunder could result in action by the Department of Education to require corrective action, fine the University, or limit or suspend its participation in Title IV programs, which could lead to litigation and could harm the University’s reputation.

 

We are subject to sanctions if we fail to calculate accurately and make timely payment of refunds of Title IV program funds for students who withdraw before completing their educational program.

 

The Higher Education Act and Department of Education regulations require us to calculate refunds of unearned Title IV program funds disbursed to students who withdraw from their educational program before completing it. If refunds are not properly calculated or timely paid, we may be required to post a letter of credit with the Department of

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Education or be subject to sanctions or other adverse actions by the Department of Education, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Investigations, legislative and regulatory developments, and general credit market conditions related to the student loan industry may result in fewer lenders and loan products and increased regulatory burdens and costs.

 

The Higher Education Act regulates relationships between lenders to students and post-secondary education institutions. In 2009, the Department of Education promulgated regulations that address these relationships, and state legislators have also passed or may be considering legislation related to relationships between lenders and institutions. In addition, new procedures introduced and recommendations made by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau create uncertainty about whether Congress will impose new burdens on private student lenders. These developments, as well as legislative and regulatory changes, such as those relating to gainful employment and repayment rates, creating uncertainty in the industry and general credit market conditions, may cause some lenders to decide not to provide certain loan products and may impose increased administrative and regulatory costs. Such actions could reduce demand for, and/or availability of private education loans, decrease Strayer University’s non-Title IV revenue, and thereby increase Strayer University’s 90/10 ratio, and have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

We rely on one or more third parties for software and services necessary to administer our participation in Title IV programs and failure of such a third party to provide compliant software and services, or by us in our use of the software, could cause us to lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.

 

Because Strayer University is jointly and severally liable to the Department of Education for the actions of third-party Title IV processing software providers, failure of such providers to comply with applicable regulations could have a material adverse effect on Strayer University, including loss of eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. If any of the third-party providers discontinue providing software and services to us, we may not be able to replace them in a timely, cost-efficient, or effective manner, or at all, and we could lose our ability to comply with the requirements of Title IV programs, which could adversely affect our enrollment, revenues, and results of operations.

 

Our business could be harmed if we experience a disruption in our ability to process student loans under the Federal Direct Loan Program.

 

We collected the majority of our fiscal year 2017 total consolidated net revenue from receipt of Title IV financial aid program funds, principally from federal student loans under the Federal Direct Loan Program. Any processing disruptions by the Department of Education may affect our students’ ability to obtain student loans on a timely basis. If we experience a disruption in our ability to process student loans through the Federal Direct Loan Program, either because of administrative challenges on our part or the inability of the Department of Education to process the volume of direct loans on a timely basis, our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows could be adversely and materially affected.

 

Our business could be harmed if Congress makes changes to the availability of Title IV funds.

 

We collected the majority of our fiscal year 2017 total consolidated net revenue from receipt of Title IV financial aid program funds, principally from federal student loans under the Federal Direct Loan Program. Changes in the availability of these funds or a reduction in the amount of funds disbursed may have a material adverse effect on our enrollment, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows. Congress eliminated further federal direct subsidized loans for graduate and professional students as of July 1, 2012. On August 9, 2013, Congress passed legislation that ties interest rates on Title IV loans to the rate paid on U.S. Treasury bonds. Interest rates are set every July 1st for loans taken out from July 1st to June 30th of the following year. In July 2012, Congress reduced eligibility for Pell Grants from 18 semesters to 12 semesters. To date, these changes have not had a material impact on our business, but future changes in the availability of Title IV funds could impact students’ ability to fund their education and thus may have a material adverse effect on our enrollment, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

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Enforcement of laws related to the accessibility of technology continues to evolve, which could result in increased information technology development costs and compliance risks.

 

Strayer University’s online education programs are made available to students through personal computers and other technological devices. For each of these programs, the curriculum makes use of a combination of graphics, pictures, videos, animations, sounds, and interactive content. Federal agencies, including the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, have considered or are considering how electronic and information technology should be made accessible to persons with disabilities. For example, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or Section 504, prohibits discrimination against a person with a disability by any organization that receives federal financial assistance. The Americans with Disabilities Act, or the ADA, prohibits discrimination based on disability in several areas, including public accommodations. In 2010, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which enforces Section 504, together with the Department of Justice, asserted that requiring the use of technology in a classroom environment when such technology is inaccessible to individuals with disabilities violates Section 504, unless those individuals are provided accommodations or modifications that permit them to receive all the educational benefits provided by the technology in an equally effective and integrated manner. If Strayer University is found to have violated Section 504, it may be required to modify existing content and functionality of its online classroom or other uses of technology, including through adoption of specific technical standards. As a result of such enforcement action, or as a result of new laws and regulations that require greater accessibility, Strayer University may have to modify its online classrooms and other uses of technology to satisfy applicable requirements, which could require substantial financial investment. As with all nondiscrimination laws that apply to recipients of federal financial assistance, an institution may lose access to federal financial assistance if it does not comply with Section 504 requirements. In addition, private parties may file or threaten to file lawsuits alleging failure to comply with laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, such as the ADA, and defending against such actions may require Strayer University to incur costs to modify its online classrooms and other uses of technology and costs of litigation.

 

Risks Related to Our Business

 

Our enrollment rate is uncertain, and we may not be able to assess our future enrollments effectively.

 

Our ability to grow enrollment depends on a number of factors, including macroeconomic factors like unemployment and the resulting lower confidence in job prospects, and many of the regulatory risks discussed above. Our enrollment in 2018 will be affected by legislative uncertainty, regulatory activity, and macroeconomic conditions. It is likely that legislative, regulatory, and economic uncertainties will continue for the foreseeable future, and thus it is difficult to assess our long-term growth prospects. Since 2013, we have selectively closed physical locations to better align our resources with the increasing preference of our current students for online course delivery. Although we plan to selectively invest in new campus facilities, and to pursue other growth opportunities in the future, there can be no assurance as to what our growth rate will be or as to the steps we may need to take to adapt to the changing regulatory, legislative, and economic conditions.

 

Adding new locations, programs, and services is dependent on our forecast of the demand for those locations, programs, and services and on regulatory approvals.

 

Adding new locations, programs, and services require us to expend significant resources, including making human capital and financial capital investments, incurring marketing expenses, and reallocating other resources. To open a new location, we are required to obtain appropriate federal, state, and accrediting agency approvals, which may be conditioned or delayed in a manner that could significantly affect our growth plans. We cannot assure investors that we will open new locations or add new programs or services in the future.

 

Our future success depends in part upon our ability to recruit and retain key personnel.

 

Our success to date has been, and our continuing success will be, substantially dependent upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified executive officers, faculty and administrators, and other key personnel. If we cease to employ any of these integral personnel or fail to manage a smooth transition to new personnel, our business could suffer.

 

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Our success depends in part on our ability to update and expand the content of existing academic programs and develop new programs in a cost-effective manner and on a timely basis.

 

Our success depends in part on our ability to update and expand the content of our academic programs, develop new programs in a cost-effective manner, and meet students’ needs in a timely manner. Prospective employers of our graduates increasingly demand that their entry-level employees possess appropriate technological and other skills. The update and expansion of our existing programs and the development of new programs may not be received favorably by students, prospective employers, or the online education market. If we cannot respond to changes in industry requirements, our business may be adversely affected. Even if we are able to develop acceptable new programs, we may not be able to introduce these new programs as quickly as students require due to regulatory constraints or as quickly as our competitors introduce competing new programs.

 

Our financial performance depends in part on our ability to continue to develop awareness of the academic programs we offer among working adult students.

 

The continued development of awareness of the academic programs we offer among working adult students is critical to the continued acceptance and growth of our programs. If we are unable to continue to develop awareness of the programs we offer, this could limit our enrollments and negatively impact our business. The following are some of the factors that could prevent us from successfully marketing our programs:

 

·

the emergence of more successful competitors;

·

customer dissatisfaction with our services and programs;

·

performance problems with our online systems; and

·

our failure to maintain or expand our brand or other factors related to our marketing.

 

Congressional and other governmental activities could damage the reputation of Strayer University and limit our ability to attract and retain students.

 

In the last eight years, Congress increased its focus on proprietary educational institutions, including administration of Title IV programs, military assistance programs, veterans education benefits, and other federal programs. The Department of Education indicated to Congress that it intended to increase its regulation of and attention to proprietary educational institutions, and the Government Accountability Office released several reports of investigations into proprietary educational institutions. In 2014, the Department of Education announced the creation of an interagency task force to oversee proprietary educational institutions by coordinating the activities of several agencies and promote information sharing among the agencies, which include the Department of Justice, the VA, the CFPB, the FTC, and the SEC, as well as state attorneys general. These and other governmental activities, including new regulations on program integrity and gainful employment, even if resulting in no adverse findings or actions against Strayer University, singly or cumulatively could affect public perception of proprietary higher education, damage the reputation of Strayer University, and limit our ability to attract and retain students.

 

We face strong competition in the post-secondary education market.

 

Post-secondary education in the United States is highly competitive. We compete with traditional public and private two-year and four-year colleges, other for-profit schools, and alternatives to higher education, such as employment and military service. Public colleges may offer programs similar to those of Strayer University at a lower tuition level as a result of government subsidies, government and foundation grants, tax-deductible contributions, and other financial sources not available to proprietary institutions. Some of our competitors in both the public and private sectors have substantially greater financial and other resources than we do. Congress, the Department of Education, and other agencies have required increasing disclosure of information to consumers. While we believe that Strayer University provides valuable education to its students, we may not always accurately predict the drivers of a student or potential students’ decisions to choose among the range of educational and other options available to them. This strong competition could adversely affect our business.

 

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Strayer relies on exclusive proprietary rights and intellectual property, and competitors may attempt to duplicate our programs and methods.

 

Third parties may attempt to develop competing programs or duplicate or copy aspects of our curriculum, online library, quality management, and other proprietary content. Any such attempt, if successful, could adversely affect our business. In the ordinary course of business, we develop intellectual property of many kinds that is or will be the subject of copyright, trademark, service mark, patent, trade secret, or other protections. Such intellectual property includes, but is not limited to, courseware materials for classes taught online and on-ground, and business know-how and internal processes and procedures developed to respond to the requirements of its various education regulatory agencies.

 

Seasonal and other fluctuations in our operating results could adversely affect the trading price of our common stock.

 

Our business is subject to seasonal fluctuations, which cause our operating results to fluctuate from quarter to quarter. This fluctuation may result in volatility or have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock. We experience, and expect to continue to experience, seasonal fluctuations in our revenue. Historically, our quarterly revenues and income have been lowest in the third quarter (July through September) because fewer students are enrolled during the summer months. We also incur significant expenses in the third quarter in preparing for our peak enrollment in the fourth quarter (October through December), including investing in online and campus infrastructure necessary to support increased usage. These investments result in fluctuations in our operating results which could result in volatility or have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock. In addition, the online education market is a rapidly evolving market, and we may not be able to accurately forecast future enrollment growth and revenues.

 

Regulatory requirements may make it more difficult to acquire us.

 

A change in ownership resulting in a change of control of Strayer University would trigger a requirement for recertification of Strayer University by the Department of Education for purposes of participation in federal student financial aid programs, a review of Strayer University’s accreditation by Middle States, and reauthorization of Strayer University by certain state licensing and other regulatory agencies. If we underwent a change of control that required approval by any state authority, Middle States, or any federal agency, and any required regulatory approval were significantly delayed, limited, or denied, there could be a material adverse effect on our ability to offer certain educational programs, award certain degrees, diplomas, or certificates, operate one or more of our locations, admit certain students or participate in Title IV programs, which in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our business. These factors may discourage takeover attempts.

 

Capacity constraints or system disruptions to Strayer University’s computer networks could damage the reputation of Strayer University and limit our ability to attract and retain students.

 

The performance and reliability of Strayer University’s computer networks, especially the online educational platform, is critical to our reputation and ability to attract and retain students. Any system error or failure, or a sudden and significant increase in traffic, could result in the unavailability of Strayer University’s computer networks. We cannot assure you that Strayer University, including its online educational platform, will be able to expand its program infrastructure on a timely basis sufficient to meet demand for its programs. Strayer University’s computer systems and operations could be vulnerable to interruption or malfunction due to events beyond its control, including natural disasters and telecommunications failures. Any interruption to Strayer University’s computer systems or operations could have a material adverse effect on our ability to attract and retain students.

 

Strayer University’s computer networks may be vulnerable to security risks that could disrupt operations and require it to expend significant resources.

 

Strayer University’s computer networks may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, computer hackers, computer viruses, and other security problems. A user who circumvents security measures could misappropriate proprietary information or cause interruptions or malfunctions in operations. As a result, Strayer University may be required to expend significant resources to protect against the threat of these security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by these breaches.

 

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The personal information that we collect is subject to privacy and data security laws and may be vulnerable to breach, theft, or loss that could adversely affect our reputation and operations.

 

Possession and use of personal information in our operations subject us to risks and costs that could harm our business. We collect, use, and retain large amounts of personal information regarding our students and their families, including social security numbers, tax return information, personal and family financial data, and credit card numbers. We also collect and maintain personal information of our employees in the ordinary course of our business. Some of this personal information is held and managed by certain vendors. Although we use security and business controls to limit access to and use of personal information, a third party may be able to circumvent those security and business controls, which could result in a breach of student or employee privacy. In addition, errors in the storage, use, or transmission of personal information could result in a breach of student or employee privacy. Possession and use of personal information in our operations also subjects us to various U.S. state and federal legislative and regulatory burdens that could, among other things, require notification of data breaches and restrict our use of personal information. The risk of hacking and cyber-attacks has increased, as has the sophistication of such attacks, including email phishing schemes targeting employees to give up their credentials. We cannot assure you that a breach, loss, or theft of personal information will not occur. A breach, theft, or loss of personal information regarding our students and their families or our employees that is held by us or our vendors could have a material adverse effect on our reputation and results of operations and result in liability under U.S. state and federal privacy statutes and legal actions by state authorities and private litigants, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Moreover, certain of our operations may involve the collection of personal information from individuals outside the U.S., which may render us subject to global privacy and data security laws. For example, the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which becomes enforceable May 25, 2018, contains a number of requirements that are different from or exceed those in U.S. state and federal privacy and data security laws. The GDPR may apply to certain of our operations. Were it to apply and if we were out of compliance, there is the potential for administrative, civil, or criminal liability with significant monetary penalties as well as reputational harm to Strayer and its employees.

 

Failure to maintain adequate process to prevent and detect fraudulent activity related to student online enrollment or financial aid could adversely impact our operations.

 

Our online environment is susceptible to an increased risk of fraudulent activity by outside parties with respect to the student online learning platform and student financial aid programs. While we have been able to detect past incidents of fraudulent activity, which have been isolated, and we have increased our internal capabilities to prevent and detect possible fraudulent activity, we cannot be certain that our systems and processes will continue to be adequate with increasingly sophisticated external fraud schemes. The Department of Education requires institutions that participate in Title IV programs to refer to the Office of the Inspector General any credible information related to fraudulent activity. If we do not maintain adequate systems to prevent and deter such fraudulent activity, the Department of Education may find a lack of “administrative capability” and could limit our access to Title IV funding.

 

Strayer University, with its online programs, operates in a highly competitive market with rapid technological changes and it may not compete successfully.

 

Online education is a highly fragmented and competitive market that is subject to rapid technological change. Competitors vary in size and organization from traditional colleges and universities, many of which have some form of online education programs, to for-profit schools, corporate universities, and software companies providing online education and training software. We expect the online education and training market to be subject to rapid changes in technologies. Strayer University’s success will depend on its ability to adapt to these changing technologies.

 

Changes in future business conditions could cause business investments and/or recorded goodwill and other long-lived assets to become impaired, resulting in substantial losses and write-downs that would reduce our earnings.

 

Although we currently have excess fair value of our investments in JWMI and NYCDA over their respective carrying values, goodwill accounts for approximately $21 million of our total assets. Operating performance of these investments, or market-based inputs to the calculations in our goodwill impairment test, could change significantly from our current assumptions. We continue to monitor the recoverability of the carrying value of our goodwill and other long-

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lived assets. Significant write-offs of goodwill or other long-lived assets could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and/or results of operations.

 

Risks Related to our Pending Merger with Capella Education Company

 

The market price for the combined company shares following the consummation of our merger with Capella may be affected by factors different from or in addition to those that historically have affected or currently affect shares of our common stock.

 

Upon consummation of our merger with Capella, our stockholders will hold combined company shares. Although Capella operates in the same industry that we do, Capella’s businesses differ from ours, and accordingly the results of operations of the combined company will be affected by some factors that are different from or in addition to those currently affecting our results of operations and those currently affecting Capella’s results of operations. For a discussion of Capella’s businesses, and some important factors to consider in connection with Capella’s businesses, see the documents previously filed with the SEC by Capella (File No. 001-33140), incorporated by reference into the joint proxy statement/prospectus filed with the SEC by us on December 8, 2017, and referred to under the sections entitled “Incorporation of Certain Documents by Reference” and “Where You Can Find More Information”. The joint proxy statement/prospectus filed with the SEC by us on December 8, 2017 does not constitute, and the documents filed with the SEC by Capella do not constitute, a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and are not incorporated by reference herein.

 

The merger may not be consummated unless important conditions are satisfied or waived.

 

The merger agreement contains a number of conditions that must be satisfied or waived (to the extent permitted by applicable law) to consummate the merger. Those conditions include, among others:

 

·

approval for listing on NASDAQ of the combined company shares issuable in connection with the merger, subject to official notice of issuance;

·

receipt of the requisite regulatory and antitrust approvals, including approvals of certain education regulatory agencies and accrediting bodies; and

·

the absence of any law or order prohibiting the merger.

 

These conditions to the consummation of the merger may not be satisfied or waived (to the extent permitted by applicable law) and, as a result, the merger may not be consummated at the time expected, or at all. In addition, either Strayer or Capella may elect to terminate the merger agreement in certain other circumstances. For additional information, see the sections entitled “The Merger Agreement—Conditions to Consummation of the Merger” and “The Merger Agreement—Termination of the Merger Agreement” in the joint proxy statement/prospectus filed with the SEC by us on December 8, 2017.

 

The merger agreement contains provisions that could discourage a potential acquirer of us.

 

The “no-shop” provisions contained in the merger agreement could discourage a potential third-party acquirer that might have an interest in acquiring all or a significant portion of Strayer from considering or proposing that acquisition, even if it were prepared to pay consideration with a higher per share cash or market value than the market value proposed to be realized in the merger. A potential third-party acquirer maintaining interest in the face of these provisions might propose to pay a lower price to our stockholders than it might otherwise have proposed to pay because of the added expense of the $25 million termination fee that may become payable in certain circumstances.

 

If the merger agreement is terminated and we seek another business combination, we may not be able to negotiate a transaction with another party on terms comparable to, or better than, the terms of our pending merger with Capella.

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The pendency of the merger could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

 

Uncertainty about the effect of our pending merger with Capella on employees, suppliers, students and employers of students may have an adverse effect on us. Some students and others who deal with us may seek to change existing relationships with us or delay decisions to continue or expand their relationships with us. Current and prospective employees may experience uncertainty about their future roles, which may affect our ability to attract, retain,  and motivate key personnel. If employees depart because of issues related to the uncertainty and difficulty of integration or a desire not to remain with the business, the combined company following the merger could face disruptions in its operations, loss of existing students, loss of key information, expertise or know-how, and unanticipated additional recruitment and training costs. In addition, the loss of key personnel could diminish the anticipated benefits of the merger.

 

In addition, the merger agreement restricts us from taking certain actions until the effective time without the consent of Capella, including, among others: the payment of dividends; the issuance of equity (including incentive equity awards); certain increases to employee compensation and benefits; capital expenditures; the incurrence of indebtedness; acquisitions and divestitures; and the entry into or amending certain material contracts. We are required to conduct business in the ordinary course consistent with past practice. The restrictive covenants, which are subject to various specific exceptions, may prevent us from pursuing attractive business opportunities that may arise prior to the consummation of the merger. For a description of the restrictive covenants applicable to us, see the section entitled “The Merger Agreement—Conduct of Business Pending the Merger” in the joint proxy statement/prospectus filed with the SEC by us on December 8, 2017.

 

Litigation filed or that may be filed could prevent or delay the consummation of the pending merger.

 

On November 30, 2017, a Capella shareholder (the “Plaintiff”) filed a putative class action lawsuit against Capella, Strayer, Sarg Sub Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Strayer, and the members of the Capella board of directors, challenging the disclosures made in connection with the pending merger. The lawsuit sought to enjoin the merger, recover damages upon consummation of the merger, attorney’s fees, and other relief. For additional information, see the description set forth in Item 3 below. On January 29, 2018, the Plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal, without prejudice.

 

Similar lawsuits and/or claims may be received by us, our board of directors, Sarg Sub Inc., Capella or Capella’s board of directors in the future. The outcomes of complex legal proceedings are difficult to predict and could delay or prevent our pending merger with Capella from becoming effective in a timely manner. One of the conditions to the closing of the merger is that no governmental authority has issued or entered any order after the date of the merger agreement having the effect of enjoining or otherwise prohibiting the consummation of the merger. Potential lawsuits in the future may seek an order enjoining the consummation of the merger. Accordingly, if a future lawsuit is successful in obtaining an order enjoining the consummation of the merger, then such order may prevent the merger from being consummated, or from being consummated within the expected time frame, and could result in substantial costs to us including, but not limited to, costs associated with the indemnification of directors and officers. Any such injunction or delay in the merger being completed may adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

Our stockholders will have a reduced ownership and voting interest in the combined company after the merger and will exercise less influence over management.

 

Our stockholders currently have the right to vote in the election of our board of directors and on other matters affecting us. Upon consummation of the merger, each Strayer stockholder will be a stockholder of the combined company with a percentage ownership of the combined company that is smaller than the stockholder’s prior percentage ownership of Strayer. After consummation of the merger, Strayer stockholders are expected to own approximately 52% of the issued and outstanding combined company shares on a fully diluted basis. Because of this, Strayer stockholders will have less influence on the management and policies of the combined company than they now have on the management and policies of Strayer.

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Failure to consummate the merger could negatively impact our future stock price, operations and financial results.

 

If the merger is not consummated for any reason, we may be subjected to a number of material risks, including the following:

 

·

a possible decline in the market price of our common stock to the extent that the current market price reflects a market assumption that the merger will be consummated and will be beneficial to the value of the business of the combined company;

·

having to pay certain costs related to the pending merger, such as legal, accounting, financial advisory, printing, and mailing fees, which must be paid regardless of whether the merger is consummated;

·

addressing any loss of personnel and/or students that may have occurred since the announcement of the signing of the merger agreement, as a result of uncertainty regarding the employee or student relationship with the combined company;

·

addressing the consequences of operational decisions made since the signing of the merger agreement either because of restrictions on our operations imposed by the terms of the merger agreement, including decisions to delay or defer capital expenditures;

·

returning the focus of management and personnel to operating the Company on a stand-alone basis, without any of the benefits expected to have been provided by the consummation of the merger; and

·

negative reactions from our stockholders, students, suppliers, and employees.

 

In addition to the above risks, we may be required, under certain circumstances, to pay a termination fee of up to $25 million to Capella, and in some cases reimburse Capella’s expenses up to $8 million, which may materially adversely affect our financial condition.

 

If the merger is not consummated, we cannot assure our stockholders that these risks will not materialize and will not materially adversely affect the business, financial results, and stock price of the Company. Failure to consummate the merger could also materially adversely affect our stock price to the extent the current market price reflects a market premium based on the assumption that the merger will be consummated and will be beneficial to the value of the business of the combined company.

 

The pending merger may disrupt attention of our management from ongoing business operations.

 

We have expended, and expect to continue to expend, significant management resources to consummate the merger. The attention of our management may be diverted away from the day-to-day operations of our businesses, including implementing initiatives to improve performance and execution of existing business plans in an effort to consummate the merger. This diversion of management resources could disrupt our operations and may have an adverse effect on our businesses, financial conditions and results of operations or that of the combined company.

 

The consummation of the merger is subject to the receipt of consents and approvals from government and regulatory entities, which may impose conditions that could have a material adverse effect on us or could cause us to abandon the merger.

 

The governmental and regulatory agencies from which we will seek approvals have broad discretion in administering the applicable government regulations.

 

On November 22, 2017, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission granted early termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended.

 

Regulatory approvals will be required in connection with the merger from certain education agencies. On February 27, 2018, the U.S. Department of Education completed its pre-acquisition review of the transaction without any material conditions, but additional closing conditions apply including approval by the Higher Learning Commission (the “HLC”). In addition, Strayer is notifying all of the education regulatory agencies that approve Strayer University of the merger.

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Although it is not expected that this merger constitutes a change of control for Strayer University, it is possible that some of those agencies may require approval of the merger, or subject Strayer University to a review in connection with the merger.

 

There can be no assurance that all of the necessary educational agency regulatory approvals required to consummate the merger will be obtained and, if obtained, there can be no assurance as to the timing of any approvals, the ability to obtain the approvals on satisfactory terms, or that the conditions will not result in the abandonment of the merger. For additional information, see the sections entitled “The Merger Agreement—Conditions to Consummation of the Merger,” “The Merger—Regulatory Approvals Required for the Merger,” and “The Merger Agreement—Conditions to Consummation of the Merger” in the joint proxy statement/prospectus filed with the SEC by us on December 8, 2017.

 

The merger agreement may require us to accept conditions from certain regulators that could limit the combined company after the consummation of the merger without us having the right to refuse to consummate the merger on the basis of those regulatory conditions, except that for certain education regulators, we or Capella may refuse to consummate the merger if any such conditions individually or in the aggregate, would reasonably be expected to result in a material adverse effect on the combined company following the consummation of the merger.

 

Any delay in the consummation of the merger for regulatory reasons could diminish the anticipated benefits of the merger or result in additional transaction costs. Any uncertainty over the ability to consummate the merger could make it more difficult for us to maintain or pursue particular business strategies. Conditions imposed by regulatory agencies in connection with their approval of the merger may restrict the combined company’s ability to modify its operations or the combined company’s ability to expend cash for other uses or otherwise have a material adverse effect on, or delay, the anticipated benefits of the merger.

 

The merger may not be accretive and may cause dilution to the combined company’s earnings per share, which may negatively affect the market price of the combined company shares.

 

Because shares of Strayer common stock will be issued in the merger, it is possible that, although we currently expect the merger to be accretive to earnings per share in 2019, excluding one-time charges, the merger may be dilutive to earnings per share, which could negatively affect the market price of combined company shares.

 

In connection with the consummation of the merger, we expect to issue approximately 10.5 million shares of Strayer common stock. The issuance of these new shares of Strayer common stock could have the effect of depressing the market price of shares of Strayer common stock (referred to as combined company shares as of the consummation of and following the merger) through dilution of earnings per share or otherwise.

 

In addition, future events and conditions could increase the dilution that is currently projected, including adverse changes in market conditions, additional transaction and integration related costs and other factors such as the failure to realize some or all of the benefits anticipated in the merger. Any dilution of, or delay in any accretion to, earnings per share could cause the price of the combined company shares to decline or grow at a reduced rate.

 

Risks Related to the Business of the Combined Company

 

Combining Strayer and Capella may be more difficult, costly or time consuming than expected, and the combined company may not realize all of the anticipated benefits of the merger.

 

Strayer and Capella have operated and, until the consummation of the merger, will continue to operate, independently. The success of the merger will depend on, among other things, the combined company’s ability to combine the businesses of Strayer and Capella in a manner that does not materially disrupt the existing student relationships of either Strayer or Capella or adversely affect current revenues and investments in future growth. Additionally, the combined company may not be able to successfully achieve the level of cost savings, revenue enhancements and synergies that it expects. If the combined company is not able to successfully achieve these objectives, the anticipated benefits of the merger may not be realized fully or at all or may take longer to realize than expected.

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In addition, the continued operation of two independent businesses within the combined company may be a complex, costly, and time-consuming process. The difficulties of combining the operations of the companies include, among others:

 

·

the diversion of management attention to integration matters;

·

difficulties in integrating functions, personnel, and systems;

·

challenges in conforming standards, controls, procedures and accounting, and other policies, business cultures, and compensation structures between the two companies;

·

difficulties in assimilating employees and in attracting and retaining key personnel;

·

challenges in keeping existing students and enrolling new students;

·

difficulties in maintaining consistency in educational programs across platforms;

·

challenges related to maintaining accreditations with multiple accreditors and working with multiple oversight bodies;

·

difficulties in achieving anticipated cost savings, synergies, business opportunities, and growth prospects from the combination;

·

difficulties in managing multiple brands under a significantly larger and more complex company;

·

difficulties operating Strayer University and Capella University as separate legal entities;

·

contingent liabilities that are larger than expected; and

·

potential unknown liabilities, adverse consequences, and unforeseen increased expenses associated with the merger.

 

Many of these factors are outside of our control and will be outside the control of the combined company, and any one of them could result in increased costs, decreased expected revenues and diversion of management time and energy, which could materially impact the business, financial condition and results of operations of the combined company. In addition, even if the businesses of Strayer and Capella are operated successfully within the combined company, the full anticipated benefits of the merger may not be realized, including the expected synergies. These benefits may not be achieved within the anticipated time frame, or at all. Further, additional unanticipated costs may be incurred in operating the businesses of Strayer and Capella. All of these factors could cause dilution to the earnings per share of the combined company, decrease or delay the expected accretive effect of the merger and negatively impact the price of the combined company shares. As a result, it cannot be assured that the combined company will realize the full benefits anticipated from the merger within the anticipated time frames, or at all.

 

Following the consummation of the merger, the composition of the combined company board of directors and the management team will be different from the composition of the current board of directors and management teams of Strayer and Capella, which may affect the strategy and operations of the combined company.

 

Following the consummation of the merger, the board of directors of the combined company will consist of (a) nine directors designated by Strayer, (b) J. Kevin Gilligan, Chief Executive Officer of Capella, and (c) two additional designees who are currently members of the Capella board of directors and are recommended by Mr. Gilligan. In addition, one of the two additional Capella designees will be appointed to serve on the Compensation Committee of the combined company.

 

Robert Silberman will continue as Executive Chairman of the board of directors of the combined company and Mr. Gilligan will be appointed as Vice Chairman at the effective time. Karl McDonnell, Strayer’s current President and Chief Executive Officer, and Daniel W. Jackson, Strayer’s current Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will continue in their respective positions at the combined company following the effective time. Steven L. Polacek, Capella’s current Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer will be appointed as the Chief Integration/Transition Officer of the combined company.

 

This new composition of the board of directors and management team may affect the combined company’s business strategy and operating decisions following the consummation of the merger, as compared to those of Strayer and Capella prior to the merger. In addition, there can be no assurances that the new board of directors and management team will

48


 

function effectively as a team and that any differences or difficulties, should they arise, will not have an adverse effect on the combined company’s business or results.

 

We will incur substantial direct and indirect costs as a result of the merger.

 

We will incur substantial expenses in connection with and as a result of consummating the merger, and over a period of time following the consummation of the merger, the combined company also expects to incur substantial expenses in connection with coordinating and, in certain cases, combining the businesses, operations, policies, and procedures of Strayer and Capella. A portion of the transaction costs related to the merger will be incurred regardless of whether the merger is consummated. While we have assumed that a certain level of transaction expenses will be incurred, factors beyond our control could affect the total amount or the timing of these expenses. Although many of the expenses that we will be incurred, by their nature, are difficult to estimate accurately, the current estimate of the aggregate expenses that we will incur is between $15-20 million in 2018, which is subject to change. These costs could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations prior to the merger and those of the combined company following the consummation of the merger.

 

The combined company is expected to record a significant amount of goodwill as a result of the merger, and such goodwill could become impaired in the future.

 

Accounting standards in the United States require that one party to the merger be identified as the acquirer. In accordance with these standards, the merger will be accounted for as an acquisition of Capella common stock by Strayer and will follow the acquisition method of accounting for business combinations. The Strayer assets and liabilities will be consolidated with those of Capella on our financial statements. The excess of the purchase price over the fair value of Capella’s assets and liabilities will be recorded as goodwill.

 

The combined company will be required to assess goodwill for impairment at least annually. To the extent goodwill becomes impaired, the combined company may be required to incur material charges relating to such impairment. Such a potential impairment charge could have a material impact on future operating results and statements of financial position of the combined company.

 

Item 1B.    Unresolved Staff Comments

 

There are no SEC staff comments on our periodic SEC reports which are unresolved.

 

Item 2.       Properties

 

Except for five campus facilities which we own, our campus and administrative facilities are leased. Our facilities are located predominantly in the eastern United States. The Company’s corporate headquarters is located at 2303 Dulles Station Blvd., Herndon, VA 20171, while the headquarters and main campus of Strayer University is located at 1133 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. Our leases generally range from five to ten years with one to two renewal options for extended terms. As of December 31, 2017, we leased 81  campus and administrative facilities consisting of approximately 1.4  million square feet. The facilities that we own consist of approximately 110,000 square feet. NYCDA is party to certain real estate leases for small amounts of space, including approximately 5,500 square feet in Manhattan, N.Y. for its corporate offices and classroom space.

 

As announced in October 2013, we closed 20 physical locations, predominantly in the Midwest. We subleased or terminated arrangements on most of this space, and to date, approximately 41,000 square feet remains vacant, with remaining lease obligations ranging from six months to five years. We continuously evaluate various options to address unused facility space including sublets, both short-term and long-term, and lease buyouts. In 2017, we reduced our leased facility footprint by approximately 166,000 square feet, primarily by reducing the size of existing campuses at the time of lease renewal.

 

We evaluate current utilization of our facilities and anticipated enrollment to determine facility needs. In 2018, we plan to open three to five new campus locations. The first new campus, located in Macon, Georgia, will open for the start of the spring academic term. The Macon campus and subsequent new campuses will incorporate a new smaller cost-

49


 

efficient design intended to service a student body that values a brick and mortar presence, even while taking an increasing majority of their courses online.

 

For more information regarding our ongoing lease commitments, see Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements below.

 

Item 3.       Legal Proceedings

 

From time to time, the Company is involved in litigation and other legal proceedings arising out of the ordinary course of its business. There are no material pending legal proceedings to which we are subject or to which our property is subject.

 

On November 30, 2017, a Capella shareholder (the “Plaintiff”) filed a putative class action against Capella, Strayer, Sarg Sub Inc.  (a wholly owned subsidiary of Strayer), and the members of Capella’s board of directors (together, the “Defendants”) challenging the disclosures made in connection with our pending merger with Capella. The lawsuit, styled Adam Franchi v. Capella Education Company, et al., No. 0:17-cv-05288-JRT-DTS, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The Plaintiff's complaint alleged that the registration statement filed in connection with our pending merger with Capella failed to disclose certain allegedly material information in violation of Sections 14(a) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 14a-9 promulgated thereunder. The alleged omissions related to (i) certain financial projections by the companies and certain financial analyses performed by Capella’s financial advisor; and (ii) certain alleged potential conflicts of interest of Capella’s officers and directors. The Plaintiff sought to enjoin Defendants from proceeding with the merger, recover damages in the event the merger was consummated, attorney's fees, and other relief. On January 29, 2018, the Plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal, without prejudice.

 

Item 4.       Mine Safety Disclosures

 

Not applicable.

50


 

 

PART II

 

Item 5.       Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “STRA.” The following table sets forth, for the periods indicated, the high, low, and closing sale prices of our common stock, as reported on the NASDAQ Stock Market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High

 

Low

 

Close

 

2016

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

First Quarter

 

$

59.99

 

$

42.39

 

$

48.75

 

Second Quarter

 

$

50.69

 

$

44.02

 

$

49.13

 

Third Quarter

 

$

51.74

 

$

43.50

 

$

46.68

 

Fourth Quarter

 

$

83.92

 

$

44.63

 

$

80.63

 

2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Quarter

 

$

83.88

 

$

71.31

 

$

80.49

 

Second Quarter

 

$

95.74

 

$

75.84

 

$

93.22

 

Third Quarter

 

$

94.99

 

$

76.40

 

$

87.27

 

Fourth Quarter

 

$

100.72

 

$

86.03

 

$

89.58

 

 

As of February 1, 2018, there were 11,161,266 shares of common stock outstanding, and approximately 76 holders of record.

 

We did not pay a dividend in 2016. On February 14, 2017, our Board of Directors approved an annual cash dividend of $1.00 per common share during 2017. This resulted in a quarterly dividend payment of $0.25 per common share. Whether to declare dividends and the amount of dividends to be paid in the future will be reviewed periodically by our Board of Directors in light of our earnings, cash flow, financial condition, capital needs, investment opportunities, and regulatory considerations. There is no requirement or assurance that common dividends will be paid in the future.

 

Peer Group Performance Graph

 

The following performance graph compares the cumulative stockholder return on our common stock since December 31, 2012 with The NASDAQ Stock Market (U.S.) Index and a self-determined peer group consisting of Adtalem Global Education, Inc. (ATGE), American Public Education, Inc. (APEI), Bridgepoint Education, Inc. (BPI), Capella Education Company (CPLA), Career Education Corporation (CECO), Grand Canyon Education, Inc. (LOPE), K12 Inc. (LRN), Lincoln Educational Services Corporation (LINC),  and Universal Technical Institute, Inc. (UTI). The peer group no longer includes Apollo Education Group, Inc. as it ceased to be a public company in 2017. DeVry Education Group is still included in the peer group but under its new name Adtalem Global Education, Inc. At present, there is no comparative index for the education industry. This graph is not deemed to be “soliciting material” or to be filed with the SEC or subject to the SEC’s proxy rules or to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act, and the graph shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any of our prior or subsequent filings under the Securities Act or the Securities Exchange Act.

 

51


 

Comparison of 60 Month Cumulative Total Return*

Among Strayer Education, Inc.

The NASDAQ Stock Market (U.S.) Index and a Peer Group

 

Picture 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name

    

12/31/12

    

12/31/13

    

12/31/14

    

12/31/15

    

12/31/16

    

12/31/17

 

Strayer Education, Inc.

 

100

 

61

 

132

 

107

 

144

 

159

 

NASDAQ Stock Market (U.S.)

 

100

 

138

 

157

 

166

 

178

 

229

 

Peer Group

 

100

 

151

 

143

 

88

 

144

 

163

 


*The comparison assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2012 in our common stock, the NASDAQ Stock Market (U.S.) Index, and the peer companies selected by us.

 

There were no sales by us of unregistered securities during the year ended December 31, 2017.

 

Stock Repurchase Program

 

In November 2003, our Board of Directors authorized us to repurchase shares of common stock in open market purchases from time to time at the discretion of our management, depending on market conditions and other corporate considerations. Our Board of Directors amended the program on various dates, increasing the repurchase amount authorized and extending the expiration date. At December 31, 2017, $70.0 million of our share repurchase authorization

52


 

was remaining for repurchases through the end of 2018. All of our share repurchases have been effected in compliance with Rule 10b-18 under the Exchange Act. Some repurchases have been made in accordance with a share repurchase plan adopted by us under Rule 10b5-1 under the Exchange Act. Our share repurchase program may be modified, suspended, or terminated at any time by us without notice.

 

A summary of our share repurchases since the inception of the plan is as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Total

    

Average dollar

    

 

 

 

 

 

number of

 

price

 

Cost of share

 

 

 

shares

 

paid per

 

repurchases

 

 

 

repurchased

 

share

 

(millions)

 

2003

 

32,350

 

$

99.57

 

$

3.2

 

2004

 

346,444

 

 

106.13

 

 

36.8

 

2005

 

410,071

 

 

92.59

 

 

38.0

 

2006

 

349,066

 

 

100.39

 

 

35.0

 

2007

 

260,818

 

 

146.05

 

 

38.1

 

2008

 

603,382

 

 

180.86

 

 

109.1

 

2009

 

451,613

 

 

177.34

 

 

80.1

 

2010

 

687,340

 

 

168.06

 

 

115.5

 

2011

 

1,581,444

 

 

128.15

 

 

202.7

 

2012

 

484,841

 

 

51.56

 

 

25.0

 

2013

 

495,085

 

 

50.49

 

 

25.0

 

2014

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

2015

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

2016

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

2017

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

Total

 

5,702,454

 

$

124.24

 

$

708.5

 

 

We did not make any share repurchases in 2014 through 2017.

53


 

Item 6.       Selected Financial Data

 

The following table sets forth, for the periods and at the dates indicated, selected consolidated financial and operating data. The financial information has been derived from our consolidated financial statements. The information set forth below is qualified by reference to and should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and other information included elsewhere or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

    

2013

    

2014

    

2015

    

2016

    

2017

 

 

 

(Dollar and share amounts in thousands, except per share data)

 

Income Statement Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues

 

$

503,600

 

$

446,041

 

$

434,437

 

$

441,088

 

$

454,851

 

Costs and expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instruction and educational support

 

 

310,446

 

 

236,303

 

 

234,097

 

 

241,026

 

 

245,177

 

Marketing

 

 

75,426

 

 

66,495

 

 

70,084

 

 

79,025

 

 

82,574

 

Admissions advisory

 

 

20,390

 

 

16,661

 

 

16,304

 

 

17,832

 

 

19,494

 

General and administration

 

 

64,637

 

 

44,835

 

 

44,254

 

 

45,733

 

 

55,397

 

Total costs and expenses

 

 

470,899

 

 

364,294

 

 

364,739

 

 

383,616

 

 

402,642

 

Income from operations

 

 

32,701

 

 

81,747

 

 

69,698

 

 

57,472

 

 

52,209

 

Investment and other income

 

 

 2

 

 

117

 

 

283

 

 

462

 

 

1,079

 

Interest expense

 

 

5,419

 

 

5,248

 

 

3,850

 

 

642

 

 

642

 

Income before income taxes

 

 

27,284

 

 

76,616

 

 

66,131

 

 

57,292

 

 

52,646

 

Provision for income taxes

 

 

10,859

 

 

30,260

 

 

26,108

 

 

22,490

 

 

32,034

 

Net income

 

$

16,425

 

$

46,356

 

$

40,023

 

$

34,802

 

$

20,612

 

Net income per share:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

$

1.55

 

$

4.39

 

$

3.78

 

$

3.28

 

$

1.93

 

Diluted

 

$

1.55

 

$

4.35

 

$

3.73

 

$

3.21

 

$

1.84

 

Weighted average shares outstanding:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

 

10,584

 

 

10,561

 

 

10,588

 

 

10,610

 

 

10,678

 

Diluted(a)

 

 

10,624

 

 

10,650

 

 

10,740

 

 

10,845

 

 

11,199

 

Other Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

$

35,563

 

$

20,630

 

$

18,104

 

$

17,817

 

$

18,733

 

Stock-based compensation expense

 

$

9,291

 

$

9,453

 

$

10,213

 

$

10,767

 

$

11,627

 

Capital expenditures

 

$

8,726

 

$

6,902

 

$

12,692

 

$

13,161

 

$

18,051

 

Cash dividends per common share (paid)

 

$

 —

 

$

 —

 

$

 —

 

$

 —

 

$

1.00

 

Average enrollment(b)

 

 

43,969

 

 

40,254

 

 

40,450

 

 

41,556

 

 

44,155

 

Strayer University Campuses(c)

 

 

100

 

 

79

 

 

76

 

 

74

 

 

71

 

Full-time employees(d)

 

 

1,485

 

 

1,455

 

 

1,401

 

 

1,542

 

 

1,389

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At December 31,

 

 

    

2013

    

2014

    

2015

    

2016

    

2017

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

Balance Sheet Data: