Commitments and Contingencies
|6 Months Ended|
Oct. 31, 2020
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]|
|Commitments and Contingencies||Commitments and Contingencies
From time to time, the Company enters into employment agreements with certain of its employees. These agreements typically include bonuses, some of which may or may not be performance-based in nature.
From time to time, we may be involved in litigation relating to claims arising out of our operations in the normal course of business. As of October 31, 2020, except as discussed below, there were no other pending or threatened lawsuits that could reasonably be expected to have a material effect on the results of our consolidated operations and there are no proceedings in which any of our directors, officers or affiliates, or any registered or beneficial shareholder, is an adverse party or has a material interest adverse to our interest.
On February 11, 2013, Higher Education Management Group, Inc. (“HEMG”), and its Chairman, Mr. Patrick Spada, sued the Company, certain senior management members and our directors in state court in New York seeking damages arising principally from (i) allegedly false and misleading statements in the filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and the DOE where the Company disclosed that HEMG and Mr. Spada borrowed $2.2 million without board authority, (ii) the alleged breach of an April 2012 agreement whereby the Company had agreed, subject to numerous conditions and time limitations, to purchase certain shares of the Company from HEMG, and (iii) alleged diminution to the value of HEMG’s shares of the Company due to Mr. Spada’s disagreement with certain business transactions the Company engaged in, all with Board approval.
On December 10, 2013, the Company filed a series of counterclaims against HEMG and Mr. Spada in the same state court of New York. By order dated August 4, 2014, the New York court denied HEMG and Spada’s motion to dismiss the fraud counterclaim the Company asserted against them.
While the Company has been advised by its counsel that HEMG’s and Spada’s claims in the New York lawsuit is baseless, the Company cannot provide any assurance as to the ultimate outcome of the case. Defending the lawsuit maybe expensive and will require the expenditure of time which could otherwise be spent on the Company’s business. While unlikely, if Mr. Spada’s and HEMG’s claims in the New York litigation were to be successful, the damages the Company could pay could potentially be material.
In November 2014, the Company and Aspen University sued HEMG seeking to recover sums due under two 2008 Agreements where Aspen University sold course materials to HEMG in exchange for long-term future payments. On September 29, 2015, the Company and Aspen University obtained a default judgment in the amount of $772,793. This default judgment precipitated the bankruptcy petition discussed in the next paragraph.
On October 15, 2015, HEMG filed bankruptcy pursuant to Chapter 7. As a result, the remaining claims and Aspen’s counterclaims in the New York lawsuit are currently stayed. The bankrupt estate’s sole asset consisted of 208,000 shares of AGI common stock, plus a claim filed by the bankruptcy trustee against Spada’s brother and a third party to recover approximately 167,000 shares. On February 8, 2019, the bankruptcy court issued an order reducing AGI’s claim to $888,638 which consisted of the judgment and a $200,000 claim for failure to disclose certain liabilities. Subsequently, the trustee sold the AGI common stock and has $924,486 available for distribution. However, priorities are an unknown amount of income taxes due from the sale of the common stock, and as of June 2, 2020 $346,480 in fees due the trustee and his counsel and $574,145 due arising from settlements with the secured creditor and Spada’s brother and the third party. While we do not know how much the Company will receive, it will be substantially less than the judgement due.
The Company’s subsidiaries, Aspen University and United States University, are subject to extensive regulation by Federal and State governmental agencies and accrediting bodies. In particular, the Higher Education Act (the “HEA”) and the regulations promulgated thereunder by the DOE subject the subsidiaries to significant regulatory scrutiny on the basis of numerous standards that schools must satisfy to participate in the various types of federal student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the HEA.
On August 22, 2017, the DOE informed Aspen University of its determination that the institution has qualified to participate under the HEA and the Federal student financial assistance programs (Title IV, HEA programs) and set a subsequent program participation agreement reapplication date of March 31, 2021.
USU currently has provisional certification to participate in the Title IV Programs due to its acquisition by the Company. The provisional certification allows the school to continue to receive Title IV funding as it did prior to the change of ownership.
The HEA requires accrediting agencies to review many aspects of an institution's operations in order to ensure that the education offered is of sufficiently high quality to achieve satisfactory outcomes and that the institution is complying with accrediting standards. Failure to demonstrate compliance with accrediting standards may result in the imposition of probation, the requirements to provide periodic reports, the loss of accreditation or other penalties if deficiencies are not remediated.
Because our subsidiaries operate in a highly regulated industry, each may be subject from time to time to audits, investigations, claims of noncompliance or lawsuits by governmental agencies or third parties, which allege statutory violations, regulatory infractions or common law causes of action.
Title IV Funding
Aspen University and United States University derive a portion of their revenues from financial aid received by its students under programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act ("HEA"), which are administered by the US Department of Education. When Aspen University students seek funding from the federal government, they receive loans and grants to fund their education under the following Title IV Programs: (1) the Federal Direct Loan program, or Direct Loan and (2) the Federal Pell Grant program, or Pell. USU students are eligible for the same, plus Federal Work Study and Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants. For the fiscal year ended April 30, 2020, approximately 31% of Aspen University’s and 33% for United States University's cash-basis revenues for eligible tuition and fees were derived from Title IV Programs.
Return of Title IV Funds
An institution participating in Title IV Programs must correctly calculate the amount of unearned Title IV Program funds that have been disbursed to students who withdraw from their educational programs before completion and must return those unearned funds in a timely manner, no later than 45 days of the date the school determines that the student has withdrawn. Under the DOE regulations, failure to make timely returns of Title IV Program funds for 5% or more of students sampled on the institution's annual compliance audit in either of its two most recently completed fiscal years can result in the institution having to post a letter of credit in an amount equal to 25% of its required Title IV returns during its most recently completed fiscal year. If unearned funds are not properly calculated and returned in a timely manner, an institution is also subject to monetary liabilities or an action to impose a fine or to limit, suspend or terminate its participation in Title IV Programs.
On September 28, 2020, the DOE notified USU that the funds held for a letter of credit in the amount of $255,708, based on the audited same day balance sheet requirements that apply in a change of control, which was funded by the University’s sole shareholder, AGI, were released. In August 2020, the DOE informed USU that it is required to post a new letter of credit in the amount of $379,345, based on the current level of Title IV funding. This irrevocable letter of credit will expire on August 25, 2021. Pursuant to USU’s provisional Program Participation Agreement ("PPA"), DOE indicated that USU must agree to participate in Title IV under the HCM1 funding process; however, DOE does retain discretion on whether or not to implement that term of the agreement. Although DOE has not, to date, notified USU that it has been placed in the HCM1 funding process, nor does DOE’s public disclosure website identify USU as being on HCM1, it is possible that prior to the end of the PPA term, DOE may notify USU that it must begin funding under the HCM1 procedure. If this occurs, the Company believes this will not have a material impact on the consolidated financial statements. In December 2020, the DOE released the existing USU letter of credit of $379,345, which was required to be posted based on the level of Title IV funding. In connection with USU's most recent Compliance Audit, USU is now required to maintain a letter of credit of approximately $10,000.
Approval to Confer Degrees
Aspen University is a Delaware corporation and is approved to operate in the State of Delaware. Aspen University is authorized by the Colorado Commission on Education in the State of Colorado and the Arizona State Board for Private Post-Secondary Education in the State of Arizona to operate as a degree granting institution for all degrees. Aspen University is authorized to operate as a degree granting institution for bachelor degrees only by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in the State of Texas.
USU is also a Delaware corporation and received initial approval from the Delaware DOE to confer degrees through June 2023.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef