UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

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

 

For the fiscal year ended: April 30, 2014

Or

 

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


For the transition period from __________ to __________

 

ASPEN GROUP, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware

 

333-165685

 

27-1933597

(State or Other Jurisdiction

 

(Commission

 

(I.R.S. Employer

of Incorporation or Organization)

 

File Number)

 

Identification No.)

 

720 South Colorado Boulevard, Suite 1150N, Denver, CO 80246

(Address of Principal Executive Office) (Zip Code)

 

(303) 333-4224

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act: None

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: Common Stock, par value $0.001

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. ¨ Yes  þ 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  þ 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 past 90 days. þ 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 (§232-405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files.)   þ Yes  ¨ No  

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrants 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. þ

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company.

 

Large accelerated filer  o      Accelerated filer  o      Non-accelerated file  o      Smaller reporting company  þ

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). ¨ Yes  þ No

 

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates computed by reference to the closing price as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter was approximately $11 million ($0.225 price).

 

The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s classes of common stock, as of July 28, 2014 was 75,113,869 shares.

 

 






  

INDEX

 

                     

PART I

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

Business.

1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors.

18

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments.

34

Item 2.

Properties.

34

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings.

35

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures.

36

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

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

37

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data.

37

Item 7.

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

38

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.

47

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.

47

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure.

47

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures.

47

Item 9B.

Other Information.

48

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance.

49

Item 11.

Executive Compensation.

49

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters.

49

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence.

49

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services.

49

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules.

50

 

 




PART I

 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS.


Aspen Group, Inc., or Aspen Group, owns 100% of Aspen University Inc., a Delaware corporation, or Aspen.  All references to “we,” “our” and “us” refer to Aspen Group, unless the context otherwise indicates. In referring to academic matters, these words refer solely to Aspen University Inc. On March 13, 2012, Aspen Group acquired Aspen in a transaction we refer to as the Reverse Merger.


Change in Fiscal Year


On April 25, 2013, Aspen Group changed its fiscal year to end each year on April 30th.


Description of Business


Aspen is dedicated to offering any motivated college-worthy student the opportunity to receive a high quality, responsibly priced distance-learning education for the purpose of achieving sustainable economic and social benefits for themselves and their families. Aspen is dedicated to providing the highest quality education experiences taught by top-tier professors - 61% of our adjunct professors hold doctorate degrees.


Because we believe higher education should be a catalyst to our students’ long-term economic success, we exert financial prudence by offering affordable tuition that is one of the greatest values in online higher education. On March 20, 2014, Aspen University unveiled a monthly payment plan aimed at reversing the college-debt sentence plaguing working-class Americans. The monthly payment plan offers bachelor students the opportunity to pay $250/month for 60 months ($15,000) and master/doctoral students the opportunity to pay $325/month for 36 months ($11,700), thereby giving students the ability to earn a degree debt free. In the four months since the announcement, already 24% of courses are now paid through monthly payment methods.


One of the key differences between Aspen and other publicly-traded, exclusively online, for-profit universities is an emphasis on post-graduate degree programs (master or doctorate). As of April 30, 2014, 2,485 students were enrolled as full-time degree-seeking students with 2,162 of those students or 87% in a master or doctoral graduate degree program. In addition, 1,087 students were engaged in part-time programs, such as continuing education courses and certificate level programs (includes 506 part-time undergraduate military students).


Today, Aspen offers certificate programs and associate, bachelor, master and doctoral degree programs in a broad range of areas, including business, education, nursing, information technology, and general studies. In terms of enrollments, our most popular school is now our School of Nursing. Aspen’s School of Nursing has grown from 5% of our full-time, degree-seeking student body at year-end 2011, to 33% of our full-time, degree-seeking student body at April 30, 2014. Aspen’s School of Nursing grew from 376 to 828 students during fiscal year 2014, which represented 74% of Aspen’s fiscal year 2014 full-time degree-seeking student body growth.


We are accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council or DETC. Aspen first received DETC accreditation in 1993 and most recently received re-accreditation in January 2009. Aspen is scheduled for re-accreditation review in January 2015.


Beginning in 2009, and following Aspen’s change of control in 2012, we have been provisionally certified to participate in the Title IV Higher Education Act, or HEA, programs.  On January 30, 2014, the DOE notified us that we had the choice of posting a letter of credit for 25% of all Title IV funds and remain provisionally certified or post a 50% letter of credit and become permanently certified.  We elected to post a 25% letter of credit and remain provisionally certified – increasing our letter of credit in April 2014 to $848,225.


In 2008, Aspen received accreditation of its Master of Science in Nursing Program with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or the Nursing Commission. Officially recognized by the DOE, the Nursing Commission is a nongovernmental accrediting agency, which ensures the quality and integrity of education programs in preparing effective nurses. Aspen’s Master of Science in Nursing program most recently underwent accreditation review by the Nursing Commission in March 2011. At that time, the program’s accreditation was reaffirmed, with the accreditation term to expire December 30, 2021. We currently offer a variety of nursing degrees including: Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education, Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Administration and Management and Bachelor of Science in Nursing.



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Aspen University announced in May, 2014 that the accreditation review by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for its RN-to-BSN program has been completed. Aspen's RN-to-BSN program is currently in "applicant status," and Aspen expects to announce the CCNE's accreditation decision this fall.


Aspen is a Global Charter Education Provider for the Project Management Institute, or PMI, and a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) of the PMI. The PMI recognizes select Aspen Project Management Courses as Professional Development Units. These courses help prepare individuals to sit for the Project Management Professional, or PMP, certification examination. PMP certification is the project management profession’s most recognized and respected certification credential. Project management professionals may take the PMI approved Aspen courses to fulfill continuing education requirements for maintaining their PMP certification.

 

In connection with our Bachelor and Master degrees in Psychology of Addiction and Counseling, the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, or NAADAC, has approved Aspen as an “academic education provider.” NAADAC-approved education providers offer training and education for those who are seeking to become certified, and those who want to maintain their certification, as alcohol and drug counselors. In connection with the approval process, NAADAC reviews all educational training programs for content applicability to state and national certification standards.


Competitive Strengths - We believe that we have the following competitive strengths:


Exclusively Online Education - We have designed our courses and programs specifically for online delivery, and we recruit and train faculty exclusively for online instruction. We provide students the flexibility to study and interact at times that suit their schedules. We design our online sessions and materials to be interactive, dynamic and user friendly.


Debt Minimization - We are committed to offering among the lowest tuition rates in the sector, which to date has alleviated the need for a significant majority of our students to borrow money to fund Aspen’s tuition requirements. In March 2014, we lowered our course-by-course tuition rates to $125/credit hour for all degree-seeking undergraduate programs and $325/credit hour for graduate programs. These tuition rates are designed to allow students to pay their tuition through monthly payment plans, thereby having the opportunity to earn their degree debt free.


Commitment to Academic Excellence - We are committed to continuously improving our academic programs and services, as evidenced by the level of attention and resources we apply to instruction and educational support. We are committed to achieving high course completion and graduation rates compared to competitive distance learning, for-profit schools. 61% of our adjunct faculty members hold a doctorate degree. One-on-one contact with our highly experienced faculty brings knowledge and great perspective to the learning experience. Faculty members are available by telephone and email to answer questions, discuss assignments and provide help and encouragement to our students.


Highly Scalable and Profitable Business Model - We believe our exclusively online education model, our relatively low student acquisition costs, and our variable faculty cost model will enable us to expand our operating margins. If we increase student enrollments we will be able to scale on a variable basis the number of adjunct faculty members after we reach certain enrollment metrics (not before). A single adjunct faculty member can work with as little as two students or as many as 25 over the course of an enrollment period.


“One Student at a Time” personal care - We are committed to providing our students with fast and personal individualized support. Every student is assigned an academic advisor who becomes an advocate for the student’s success. Our one-on-one approach assures contact with faculty members when a student needs it and monitoring to keep them on course. Our administrative staff is readily available to answer any questions and works with a student from initial interest through the application process and enrollment, and most importantly while the student is pursuing a degree or studies.




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Admissions


In considering candidates for acceptance into any of our certificate or degree programs, we look for those who are serious about pursuing – or advancing in – a professional career, and who want to be both prepared and academically challenged in the process. We strive to maintain the highest standards of academic excellence, while maintaining a friendly learning environment designed for educational, personal and professional success. A desire to meet those standards is a prerequisite. Because our programs are designed for self-directed learners who know how to manage their time, successful students have a basic understanding of management principles and practices, as well as good writing and research skills. Admission to Aspen is based on thorough assessment of each applicant’s potential to complete successfully the program. Additionally, we require students to complete an essay as part of their admission process – as we are looking for students not only with the potential to succeed but also with the motivation to succeed.


Industry Overview


The U.S. market for postsecondary education is a large, growing market. According to a 2012 publication by the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, the number of postsecondary learners enrolled as of Fall 2010 in U.S. institutions that participate in Title IV programs was approximately 21 million (including both undergraduate and graduate students), up from 18.2 million in the Fall of 2007. We believe the growth in postsecondary enrollment is a result of a number of factors, including the significant and measurable personal income premium that is attributable to postsecondary education, and an increase in demand by employers for professional and skilled workers, partially offset in the near term by current economic conditions. According to the NCES, in 2010, the median earnings of young adults with a bachelor’s degree was $45,000 compared to $37,000 for those with an associate’s degree and $21,000 for those with a high school diploma.


Eduventures, Inc., an education consulting and research firm, estimates that 20% of all postsecondary students will be in fully-online programs by 2014, with perhaps another 20% taking courses online. The estimated increase in students online increased 18% in 2010. We believe that the higher growth in demand for fully-online education is largely attributable to the flexibility and convenience of this instructional format, as well as the growing recognition of its educational efficacy.


Competition


There are more than 4,200 U.S. colleges and universities serving traditional college age students and adult students. Any reference to universities herein also includes colleges. Competition is highly fragmented and varies by geography, program offerings, delivery method, ownership, quality level, and selectivity of admissions. No one institution has a significant share of the total postsecondary market. While we compete in a sense with traditional “brick and mortar” universities, our primary competitors are with online universities. Our online university competitors that are publicly traded include: Apollo Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), American Public Education, Inc. (Nasdaq: APEI), DeVry Inc. (NYSE: DV), Grand Canyon Education, Inc. (Nasdaq: LOPE), ITT Educational Services, Inc. (NYSE: ESI), Capella Education Company (Nasdaq: CPLA), Career Education Corporation (Nasdaq: CECO) and Bridgepoint Education, Inc. (NYSE: BPI). American Public Education, Inc. and Capella Education Company are wholly online while the others are not. Based upon public information, Apollo Group, which includes University of Phoenix, is the market leader with University of Phoenix having degree enrollments exceeding 241,900 students (based upon APOL’s Form 10-Q filed on May 31, 2014). As of April 30, 2014, Aspen had 3,572 students enrolled. These competitors have substantially more financial and other resources.


The primary mission of most accredited four-year universities is to serve generally full-time students and conduct research. Aspen acknowledges the differences in the educational needs between working and full-time students at “brick and mortar” schools and provides programs and services that allow our students to earn their degrees without major disruption to their personal and professional lives.


We also compete with public and private degree-granting regionally and nationally accredited universities. An increasing number of universities enroll working students in addition to the traditional 18 to 24 year-old students, and we expect that these universities will continue to modify their existing programs to serve working learners more effectively, including by offering more distance learning programs. We believe that the primary factors on which we compete are the following:


active and relevant curriculum development that considers the needs of employers;

the ability to provide flexible and convenient access to programs and classes;

high-quality courses and services;

comprehensive student support services;

breadth of programs offered;



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the time necessary to earn a degree;

qualified and experienced faculty;

reputation of the institution and its programs;

the variety of geographic locations of campuses;

regulatory approvals;

cost of the program;

name recognition; and

convenience.


Curricula


Certificates

Certificate in Information Technology with specializations in:

Information Systems Management

Java Development

Object Oriented Application Development

Web Development

Certificate in Project Management


Associates Degrees

Associate of General Studies

Associate of Applied Science Early Childhood Education


Bachelor’s Degrees

Bachelor of General Studies

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, (Completion Program)

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, (Completion Program)

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with specializations in

Criminal Justice Administration

Major Crime Investigation Procedure

Major Crime Investigation Procedure, (Completion Program)

Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education

Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, (Completion Program)

Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education with a specialization in

Infants and Toddlers

Infants and Toddlers, (Completion Program)

Preschool

Preschool, (Completion Program)

Bachelor of Science in Medical Management

Bachelor of Science in Nursing


Master’s Degrees

Master of Arts Psychology and Addiction Counseling

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a specialization in

Forensic Sciences

Law Enforcement Management

Terrorism and Homeland Security

Master of Science in Information Management with a specialization in

Management

Project Management

Technologies



4




Master of Science in Information Systems with a specialization in

Enterprise Application Development

Web Development

Master of Science in Information Technology

Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in

Administration and Management

Administration and Management, (RN to MSN Bridge Program)

Nursing Education

Nursing Education, (RN to MSN Bridge Program)

Master of Science in Physical Education and Sports Management

Master of Science in Technology and Innovation with a specialization in

Business Intelligence and Data Management

Electronic Security

Project Management

Systems Design

Technical Languages

Vendor and Change Control Management

Master in Business Administration

Master in Business Administration with specializations in

Entrepreneurship

Finance

Information Management

Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management

Project Management

Master in Education

Curriculum Development and Outcomes Assessment

Education Technology

Transformational Leadership

Doctorates

Doctorate of Science in Computer Science

Doctorate in Education Leadership and Learning

Doctorate in Education Leadership and Learning with specializations

Education Administration

Faculty Leadership

Instructional Design

Leadership and Learning


Independent online classes start on alternating Tuesday’s every month.


Sales and Marketing


Prior to Mr. Michael Mathews becoming Aspen’s Chief Executive Officer in May 2011, Aspen had conducted minimal efforts and spent immaterial sums on sales and marketing. During the second half of 2011, Mr. Mathews and his team made significant changes to our sales and marketing program and spent a significant amount of time, money and resources on our marketing program.


What is unique about Aspen’s marketing program is that we have no plans in the near future to utilize third-party online lead generation companies to attract prospective students. To our knowledge, most if not all for-profit online universities utilize multiple third-party online lead generation companies to obtain a meaningful percentage of their prospective student leads. Aspen’s executive officers have many years of expertise in the online lead generation and Internet advertising industry, which for the foreseeable future will allow Aspen to cost-effectively drive all prospective student leads internally. This is a competitive advantage for Aspen because third-party leads are typically unbranded and non-exclusive (lead generation firms typically sell prospective student leads to multiple universities), therefore the conversion rate for those leads tends to be appreciably lower than internally generated, Aspen branded, proprietary leads.




5




Aspen’s marketing plan for 2014 is consistent with the changes made in 2012 and 2013. In January 2012, Aspen hired an Executive Vice President of Marketing, who supervises a call center in the Phoenix-metro area which opened in August 2012. This executive has prior experience in marketing with multiple online university competitors and, more recently, an online lead generation company.


Aspen announced in July, 2014, that its cost per enrollment declined year-over-year by 36% in fiscal year 2014 fourth quarter to a record $705, due to increases in student enrollments, lower marketing spend and rising conversion rates.


From 2005 through July 2011, prior to Michael Mathews becoming Aspen’s CEO, Aspen initiated a number of pre-payment/low per course tuition plans. Together we refer to these plans as the Legacy Tuition Plan. The last Legacy Tuition Plan that ran from June 2010 through July 2011 charged students tuition of only $3,600 for the entire 12-course Master or Doctorate program (the pre-payment option offered the student the ability to pre-pay $2,700 for the first four courses or 12 credit hours, followed by $112.50 per course or $37.50/credit hour for the remaining eight courses). This program was terminated as of July 15, 2011. At April 30, 2014, 19% of our class starts were from students on the Legacy Tuition Plan. However, those Legacy Tuition Plan students only represented approximately 5% of Aspen’s full-time degree-seeking revenues for the fiscal period ended April 30, 2014. During fiscal year 2015, the number of old-prepay students will cease to be material.


Employees


As of July 28, 2014, we had 35 full-time employees, and 65 adjunct professors. None of our employees are parties to any collective bargaining arrangement. We believe our relationships with our employees are good.


Corporate History


Aspen Group was incorporated on February 23, 2010 in Florida as a home improvement company intending to develop products and sell them on a wholesale basis to home improvement retailers. Aspen Group was unable to execute its business plan. In June 2011, Aspen Group changed its name to Elite Nutritional Brands, Inc. and terminated all operations. In February 2012, Aspen Group reincorporated in Delaware under the name Aspen Group, Inc.


Aspen was incorporated on September 30, 2004 in Delaware. Its predecessor was a Delaware limited liability company organized in Delaware in 1999. In May 2011, Aspen merged with Education Growth Corporation, or EGC. Aspen survived the EGC merger. EGC was a start-up company controlled by Mr. Michael Mathews. Mr. Mathews became Aspen’s Chief Executive Officer upon closing the EGC merger. On March 13, 2012, Aspen Group acquired Aspen in the Reverse Merger.


Regulation


Students attending Aspen finance their education through a combination of individual resources, corporate reimbursement programs and federal financial aid programs. The discussion which follows outlines the extensive regulations that affect our business. Complying with these regulations entails significant effort from our executives and other employees. Our President has two unique roles: overseeing our accreditation and regulatory compliance and seeking to improve our academic performance. Accreditation and regulatory compliance is also expensive. Beyond the internal costs, we began using education regulatory counsel in the summer of 2011, as our current Chief Executive Officer focused his attention on compliance. Aspen participates in the federal student financial aid programs authorized under Title IV. For the year ended December 31, 2013, approximately 26% of our cash-basis revenues for eligible tuition and fees were derived from Title IV programs. In connection with a student’s receipt of Title IV aid, we are subject to extensive regulation by the DOE, state education agencies and the DETC. In particular, the Title IV programs, and the regulations issued thereunder by the DOE, subject us to significant regulatory scrutiny in the form of numerous standards that we must satisfy. To participate in Title IV programs, a school must, among other things, be:


authorized to offer its programs of instruction by the applicable state education agencies in the states in which it is physically located (in our case, Colorado);

accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of the DOE; and

certified as an eligible institution by the DOE.




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The DOE enacted regulations relating to the Title IV programs which became effective July 1, 2011. Under these new regulations, an institution, like ours, that offers postsecondary education through distance education to students in a state in which the institution is not physically located or in which it is otherwise subject to state jurisdiction as determined by that state, must meet any state requirements to offer legally postsecondary education to students in that state. The institution must be able to document state approval for distance education if requested by the DOE.


This new regulation has been recognized as a significant departure from the state authorization procedures followed by most, if not all, institutions before its enactment. Although these new rules became effective July 1, 2011, the DOE indicated in an April 20, 2011 guidance letter that it would not initiate any action to establish repayment liabilities or limit student eligibility for distance education activities undertaken before July 1, 2014, provided the institution was making a good faith effort to identify and obtain necessary state authorization before that date. However, on July 12, 2011, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the portion of the DOE’s state authorization regulation that requires online education providers to obtain any required authorization from all states in which their students reside, finding that the DOE had failed to provide sufficient notice and opportunity to comment on the requirement. An appellate court affirmed that ruling on June 5, 2012 and therefore this new regulation is currently invalid.  On April 16, 2013, the DOE announced its intention to revisit the state authorization requirements for postsecondary distance education in a new negotiated rulemaking process which began in the fall of 2013.  However, the rulemaking process failed to reach consensus on the rule.  As a result, the DOE will propose a new rule for adoption that will address licensing requirements for distance education.


Should the requirements be enforced at a later date, and if we fail to obtain required state authorization to provide postsecondary distance education in a specific state, we could lose our ability to award Title IV aid to students within that state. In addition, a state may impose penalties on an institution for failure to comply with state requirements related to an institution’s activities in a state, including the delivery of distance education to persons in that state.


Therefore, we are taking steps to ensure compliance in time for the earlier-effective July 1, 2015 enforcement date as recommended for all schools facing this new (but currently invalid) regulation. We enroll students in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. We have sought and received confirmation that our operations do not require state licensure or authorization, or we have been notified that we are exempt from licensure or authorization requirements, in three states. We, through our legal counsel, are researching the licensure requirements and exemption possibilities in the remaining 47 states. It is anticipated that Aspen will be in compliance with all state licensure requirements by July 1, 2015, in time for the earlier-effective compliance date set by the DOE. Because we enroll students in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, we may have to seek licensure or authorization in additional states in the future.


We are subject to extensive regulations by the states in which we become authorized or licensed to operate. State laws typically establish standards for instruction, qualifications of faculty, administrative procedures, marketing, recruiting, financial operations and other operational matters. State laws and regulations may limit our ability to offer educational programs and to award degrees. Some states may also prescribe financial regulations that are different from those of the DOE. If we fail to comply with state licensing requirements, we may lose our state licensure or authorizations. Failure to comply with state requirements could result in Aspen losing its authorization from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, a department of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, or CDHE, its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, or its ability to offer certain programs, any of which may force us to cease operations.


Additionally, Aspen is a Delaware corporation. Delaware law requires an institution to obtain approval from the Delaware Department of Education, or Delaware DOE, before it may incorporate with the power to confer degrees. In July 2012, Aspen received notice from the Delaware DOE that it is granted provisional approval status effective until June 30, 2015.


Accreditation


Aspen is accredited by the DETC, an accrediting agency recognized by the DOE. Accreditation is a non-governmental system for recognizing educational institutions and their programs for student performance, governance, integrity, educational quality, faculty, physical resources, administrative capability and resources, and financial stability. In the U.S., this recognition comes primarily through private voluntary associations that accredit institutions and programs. To be recognized by the DOE, accrediting agencies must adopt specific standards for their review of educational institutions. Accrediting agencies establish criteria for accreditation, conduct peer-review evaluations of institutions and programs for accreditation, and publicly designate those institutions or programs that meet their criteria. Accredited institutions are subject to periodic review by accrediting agencies to determine whether such institutions maintain the performance, integrity and quality required for accreditation.




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Accreditation by the DETC is important. Accreditation is a reliable indicator of an institution’s quality and is an expression of peer institution confidence. Universities depend, in part, on accreditation in evaluating transfers of credit and applications to graduate schools. Accreditation also provides external recognition and status. Employers rely on the accredited status of institutions when evaluating an employment candidate’s credentials. Corporate and government sponsors under tuition reimbursement programs look to accreditation for assurance that an institution maintains quality educational standards. Moreover, institutional accreditation awarded from an accrediting agency recognized by the DOE is necessary for eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. From time to time, DETC adopts or makes changes to its policies, procedures and standards. If we fail to comply with any of DETC’s requirements, our accreditation status and, therefore, our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs could be at risk.  In 2012, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (the panel charged with advising DOE on whether to recognize accrediting agencies for federal purposes, including Title IV program purposes) recommend that DETC receive recognition through 2017. Aspen is next scheduled for re-accreditation review by DETC in January 2015.


Nature of Federal, State and Private Financial Support for Postsecondary Education


An institution that applies to participate in Title IV programs for the first time, if approved, will be provisionally certified for no more than one complete award year. Furthermore, an institution that undergoes a change in ownership resulting in a change of control must apply to the DOE in order to reestablish its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. If the DOE determines to approve the application, 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 the provisional certification. A provisionally certified institution, such as Aspen, must apply for and receive DOE approval of substantial changes and must comply with any additional conditions included in its program participation agreement. If the DOE determines that a provisionally certified institution is unable to meet its responsibilities under its program participation agreement, the DOE may seek to revoke the institution's certification to participate in Title IV programs with fewer due process protections for the institution than if it were fully certified.


The federal government provides a substantial part of its support for postsecondary education through the Title IV programs, in the form of grants and loans to students. Students can use those funds at any institution that has been certified by the DOE to participate in the Title IV programs. Aid under Title IV programs is primarily awarded on the basis of financial need, generally defined as the difference between the cost of attending the institution and the amount a student can reasonably contribute to that cost. All recipients of Title IV program funds must maintain satisfactory academic progress and must progress in a timely manner toward completion of their program of study. In addition, each school must ensure that Title IV program funds are properly accounted for and disbursed in the correct amounts to eligible students.


Aspen’s mission is to offer students the opportunity to fund their education without relying on student loans. Effective March 20, 2014, Aspen launched a $325 monthly payment plan for graduate students and $250 monthly payment plan for bachelor students. In the month of June 2014, 24% of class starts were paid through monthly payment methods.


When our students borrow 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.


Currently, the majority of Aspen students self-finance all or a portion of their education. Additionally, students may receive full or partial tuition reimbursement from their employers. Eligible students can also access private loans through a number of different lenders for funding at current market interest rates.


Under the Direct Loan program, the DOE makes loans directly to students. The Direct Loan Program includes the Direct Subsidized Loan, the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, the Direct PLUS Loan (including loans to graduate and professional students), and the Direct Consolidation Loan. The Budget Control Act of 2011 signed into law in August 2011, eliminated Direct Subsidized Loans for graduate and professional students, as of July 1, 2012. The terms and conditions of subsidized loans originated prior to July 1, 2012 are unaffected by the law.


For Pell grants, the DOE makes grants to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. To date, few Aspen students have received Pell Grants. Accordingly, the Pell Grant program currently is not material to Aspen’s cash revenues.




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Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs


The substantial amount of federal funds disbursed through Title IV programs, the large number of students and institutions participating in these programs, and allegations of fraud and abuse by certain for-profit institutions have prompted the DOE to exercise considerable regulatory oversight over for-profit institutions of higher learning. Accrediting agencies and state education agencies also have responsibilities for overseeing compliance of institutions in connection with Title IV program requirements. As a result, our institution is subject to extensive oversight and review. Because the DOE periodically revises its regulations and changes its interpretations of existing laws and regulations, we cannot predict with certainty how the Title IV program requirements will be applied in all circumstances. See the “Risk Factors” contained herein which disclose comprehensive regulatory risks.


In addition to the state authorization requirements and other regulatory requirements described herein, other significant factors relating to Title IV programs that could adversely affect us include the following legislative action and regulatory changes:


Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act approximately every five to eight years. Congress most recently reauthorized the Higher Education Act in August 2008. We cannot predict with certainty whether or when Congress might act to amend further the Higher Education Act. The elimination of additional Title IV programs, material changes in the requirements for participation in such programs, or the substitution of materially different programs could increase our costs of compliance and could reduce the ability of certain students to finance their education at our institution.


On December 23, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, or the Act. The law includes a number of provisions that significantly affect the Title IV programs. For example, it reduces the income threshold at which students are assigned “an automatic zero expected family contribution” for purposes of awarding financial aid for the 2012-2013 award year. Under the Act, students who do not have a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent (e.g., GED) or do not meet an applicable home school requirement and who first enroll in a program of study on or after July 1, 2012 will not be eligible to receive Title IV aid. The Act also makes certain changes to the Pell Grant Program and temporarily eliminates the interest subsidy that is provided for Direct Subsidized Loans during the six-month grace period immediately following termination of enrollment.


Over the last several years, Congressional committees have held hearings related to for-profit postsecondary education institutions. Additionally, the chairmen of the House and Senate education committees, along with other members of Congress, asked the GAO, to review various aspects of the for-profit education sector, including recruitment practices, educational quality, student outcomes, the sufficiency of integrity safeguards against waste, fraud and abuse in Title IV programs, and the degree to which for-profit schools’ revenue is comprised of Title IV and other federal funding sources. In 2010, the GAO released a report based on a three-month undercover investigation of recruiting practices at for-profit schools. The report concluded that employees at a non-random sample of 15 for-profit schools (which did not include Aspen) made deceptive statements to students about accreditation, graduation rates, job placement, program costs, or financial aid. On October 31, 2011, the GAO released a second report following an additional undercover investigation related to enrollment, cost, financial aid, course structure, substandard student performance, withdrawal, and exit counseling. The report concluded that while some of the 15 unidentified for-profit schools investigated appeared to follow existing policies, others did not. Although the report identified a number of deficiencies in specific instances, it made no recommendations. On December 7, 2011, the GAO released a report that attempted to compare the quality of education provided by for-profit, nonprofit, and public institutions based upon multiple outcome measures including graduation rates, pass rates on licensing exams, employment outcomes, and student loan default rates. The report found that students at for-profit institutions had higher graduation rates for certificate programs, similar graduation rates for associate’s degree programs, and lower graduation rates for bachelor’s degree programs than students at nonprofit and public institutions. It also found that a higher proportion of bachelor’s degree recipients from for-profit institutions took out loans than did degree recipients from other institutions and that some evidence exists that students at for-profits institutions default on their student loans at higher rates. On nine of the ten licensing exams reviewed, graduates of for-profit institutions had lower pass rates than students from nonprofit and public institutions.


The DOE currently is in the process of developing proposed regulations to amend regulations pertinent to the Title IV loan programs and teacher education. We are unable to predict the timing or the proposed or final form of any regulations that the DOE ultimately may adopt and the impact of such regulations on our business.


Administrative Capability. DOE regulations specify extensive criteria by which an institution must establish that it has the requisite “administrative capability” to participate in Title IV programs. Failure to satisfy any of the standards may lead the DOE to find the institution ineligible to participate in Title IV programs or to place the institution on provisional certification as a condition of its participation. To meet the administrative capability standards, an institution must, among other things:


comply with all applicable Title IV program regulations;



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have capable and sufficient personnel to administer the federal student financial aid programs;

have acceptable methods of defining and measuring the satisfactory academic progress of its students;

have cohort default rates above specified levels;

have various procedures in place for safeguarding federal funds;

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;

provide financial aid counseling to its students;

refer to the DOEs Office of Inspector General any credible information indicating that any applicant, student, employee, or agent of the institution, has been engaged in any fraud or other illegal conduct involving Title IV programs;

report annually to the Secretary of Education on any reasonable reimbursements paid or provided by a private education lender or group of lenders to any employee who is employed in the institutions financial aid office or who otherwise has responsibilities with respect to education loans;

develop and apply an adequate system to identify and resolve conflicting information with respect to a students application for Title IV aid;

submit in a timely manner all reports and financial statements required by the regulations; and

not otherwise appear to lack administrative capability.


Among other things, DOE regulations require that an institution must evaluate satisfactory academic progress (1) at the end of each payment period if the length of the educational program is one academic year or less or (2) for all other educational programs, at the end of each payment period or at least annually to correspond to the end of a payment period. Second, the DOE regulations add an administrative capability standard related to the existing requirement that students must have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent in order to be eligible for Title IV aid. Under the administrative capability standard, institutions must develop and follow procedures for evaluating the validity of a student’s high school diploma if the institution or the Secretary of Education has reason to believe that the student’s diploma is not valid.


If an institution fails to satisfy any of these criteria or any other DOE regulation, the DOE may:


require the repayment of Title IV funds;

transfer the institution from the advance system of payment of Title IV funds to cash monitoring status or to the reimbursement system of payment;

place the institution on provisional certification status; or

commence a proceeding to impose a fine or to limit, suspend or terminate the participation of the institution in Title IV programs.


If we are found not to have satisfied the DOEs administrative capability requirements, we could lose, or be limited in our access to, Title IV program funding.


Distance Education. We offer all of our existing degree and certificate programs via Internet-based telecommunications from our headquarters in Colorado. Under the Higher Education Opportunity Act, or HEOA, an accreditor that evaluates institutions offering distance education must require such institutions to have processes through which the institution establishes that a student who registers for a distance education program is the same student who participates in and receives credit for the program. Under DOE regulations, if an institution offers postsecondary education through distance education to students in a state in which the institution is not physically located or in which it is otherwise subject to state jurisdiction as determined by the state, the institution must meet any state requirements for it to offer legally postsecondary distance education in that state. The institution must be able to document state approval for distance education if requested by the DOE. In addition, states must have a process to review and take appropriate action on complaints concerning postsecondary institutions. As previously discussed herein, these regulations have been vacated by a federal court.


Financial Responsibility. The Higher Education Act and DOE regulations establish extensive standards of financial responsibility that institutions such as Aspen must satisfy to participate in Title IV programs. These standards generally require that an institution provide the resources necessary to comply with Title IV program requirements and meet all of its financial obligations, including required refunds and any repayments to the DOE for liabilities incurred in programs administered by the DOE.




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The DOE evaluates institutions on an annual basis for compliance with specified financial responsibility standards that include a complex formula that uses line items from the institution’s audited financial statements. In addition, the financial responsibility standards require an institution to receive an unqualified opinion from its accountants on its audited financial statements, maintain sufficient cash reserves to satisfy refund requirements, meet all of its financial obligations, and remain current on its debt payments. The formula focuses on three financial ratios: (1) equity ratio (which measures the institution’s capital resources, financial viability, and ability to borrow); (2) primary reserve ratio (which measures the institution’s viability and liquidity); and (3) net income ratio (which measures the institution’s profitability or ability to operate 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 the need for further federal oversight. The DOE may also apply such measures of financial responsibility to the operating company and ownership entities of an eligible institution.


Under DOE regulations, even if an institution meets all of the other financial responsibility requirements, it is not considered to be financially responsible if the relevant financial statement audits contain a going concern opinion. If the DOE were to determine that we do not meet its financial responsibility standards, we may be able to establish financial responsibility on an alternative basis. Alternative bases include, for example:


posting a letter of credit in an amount equal to at least 50% of the total Title IV program funds received by us during our most recently completed fiscal year;

posting a letter of credit in an amount equal to at least 10% of such prior years Title IV program funds received by us, accepting provisional certification, complying with additional DOE monitoring requirements and agreeing to receive Title IV program funds under an arrangement other than the DOE’s standard advance payment arrangement such as the “reimbursement” system of payment or cash monitoring; or

complying with additional DOE monitoring requirements and agreeing to receive Title IV program funds under an arrangement other than the DOEs standard advance payment arrangement such as the reimbursement system of payment or cash monitoring.


Failure to meet the DOE’s “financial responsibility” requirements, either because we do not meet the DOE’s financial responsibility standards or are unable to establish financial responsibility on an alternative basis, would cause us to lose access to Title IV program funding.


Consistent with the Higher Education Act, Aspen’s certification to participate in Title IV programs terminated after closing of the Reverse Merger. The DOE received Aspen's application and has since extended the provisional certification through April 15, 2015. In the future, the DOE may impose additional or different terms and conditions in any final or provisional program participation agreement that it may issue.


Third-Party Servicers. DOE 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 DOE new contracts with or any significant modifications to contracts with third-party servicers as well as other matters related to third-party servicers. We contract with a third-party servicer which performs certain activities related to our participation in Title IV programs. If our third-party servicer does not comply with applicable statutes and regulations including the Higher Education Act, we may be liable for its actions, and we could lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.


Title IV Return of Funds. Under the DOE’s return of funds regulations, when a student withdraws, an institution must return unearned funds to the DOE in a timely manner. An institution must first determine the amount of Title IV program funds that a student “earned.” If the student 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. If the student withdraws after the 60% threshold, 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 (i) the unearned Title IV program funds and (ii) 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 of the institution’s determination that a student withdrew. If such payments are not timely made, 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 year. Under DOE regulations, late returns of Title IV program funds for 5% or more of students sampled in the institution’s annual compliance audit constitutes material non-compliance. Aspen’s academic calendar structure is a non-standard term with rolling start dates with defined length of term (10 week term).



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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 Aspen. An institution is subject to loss of eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs if it derives more than 90% of its revenues (calculated on a cash basis and in accordance with a DOE formula) from Title IV programs for two consecutive fiscal years. An institution whose rate exceeds 90% for any single fiscal year will be placed on provisional certification for at least two fiscal years and may be subject to other conditions specified by the Secretary of the DOE.


Student Loan Defaults. Under the Higher Education Act, an education institution may lose its eligibility to participate in some or all of the Title IV programs if defaults on the repayment of Direct Loan Program loans by its students exceed certain levels. For each federal fiscal year, a rate of student defaults (known as a “cohort default rate”) is calculated for each institution with 30 or more borrowers entering repayment in a given federal fiscal year by determining the rate at which borrowers who become subject to their repayment obligation in that federal fiscal year default by the end of the following federal fiscal year. For such institutions, the DOE calculates a single cohort default rate for each federal fiscal year that includes in the cohort all current or former student borrowers at the institution who entered repayment on any Direct Loan Program loans during that year.


If the DOE notifies an institution that its cohort default rates for each of the three most recent federal fiscal years are 25% or greater, the institution’s participation in the Direct Loan Program and the Federal Pell Grant Program ends 30 days after the notification, unless the institution appeals in a timely manner that determination on specified grounds and according to specified procedures. In addition, an institution’s participation in Title IV ends 30 days after notification that its most recent fiscal year cohort default rate is greater than 40%, unless the institution timely appeals that determination on specified grounds and according to specified procedures. An institution whose participation ends under these provisions may not participate in the relevant programs for the remainder of the fiscal year in which the institution receives the notification, as well as for the next two fiscal years.


If an institution’s cohort default rate equals or exceeds 25% in any single year, the institution may be placed on provisional certification status. Provisional certification does not limit an institution’s access to Title IV program funds; however, an institution with provisional status is subject to closer review by the DOE and may be subject to summary adverse action if it violates Title IV program requirements. If an institution’s default rate exceeds 40%, the institution may lose eligibility to participate in some or all Title IV programs. Since Aspen has only recently begun to participate in Title IV programs and our certification limits the number of Aspen students who may receive Title IV aid, we do not yet have reporting data on our cohort default rates for the three most recent federal fiscal years for which cohort default rates have been officially calculated, namely 2007, 2008 and 2009. The primary reason is that we have not yet had students who have begun to repay their Title IV loans.


HEOA extended by one year the period for measuring the cohort default rate, effective with cohort default rates for federal fiscal year 2009. Currently, institutions that have two-year cohort default rates of 25% or more for each of their three most recent years, or of 40% in any one year, will lose eligibility for Title IV student aid programs; beginning in 2014, institutions that have three-year cohort default rates of 30% or higher for three consecutive years, or of more than 40% in any given year, will lose eligibility for those programs.


Incentive Compensation Rules. As a part of an institution’s program participation agreement with the DOE and in accordance with the Higher Education Act, an institution may not provide any commission, bonus or other incentive payment to any person or entity engaged in any student recruitment, admissions or financial aid awarding activity based directly or indirectly on success in securing enrollments or financial aid. Failure to comply with the incentive payment rule could result in termination of participation in Title IV programs, limitation on participation in Title IV programs, or financial penalties. Aspen believes it is in compliance with the incentive payment rule.


In recent years, other postsecondary educational institutions have been named as defendants to whistleblower lawsuits, known as “qui tam” cases, brought by current or former employees pursuant to the Federal False Claims Act, alleging that their institution’s compensation practices did not comply with the incentive compensation rule. A qui tam case is a civil lawsuit brought by one or more individuals, referred to as a relator, on behalf of the federal government for an alleged submission to the government of a false claim for payment. The relator, often a current or former employee, is entitled to a share of the government’s recovery in the case, including the possibility of treble damages. A qui tam action is always filed under seal and remains under seal until the government decides whether to intervene in the case. If the government intervenes, it takes over primary control of the litigation. If the government declines to intervene in the case, the relator may nonetheless elect to continue to pursue the litigation at his or her own expense on behalf of the government. Any such litigation could be costly and could divert management’s time and attention away from the business, regardless of whether a claim has merit.




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The GAO released a report finding that the DOE has inadequately enforced the current ban on incentive payments. In response, the DOE has undertaken to increase its enforcement efforts by, among other approaches, strengthening procedures provided to auditors reviewing institutions for compliance with the incentive payments ban and updating its internal compliance guidance in light of the GAO findings and the recently amended DOE incentive payment rule.


Code of Conduct Related to Student Loans. As part of an institution’s program participation agreement with the DOE, HEOA requires that institutions that participate in Title IV programs adopt a code of conduct pertinent to student loans. For financial aid office or other employees who have responsibility related to education loans, the code must forbid, with limited exceptions, gifts, consulting arrangements with lenders, and advisory board compensation other than reasonable expense reimbursement. The code also must ban revenue-sharing arrangements, “opportunity pools” that lenders offer in exchange for certain promises, and staffing assistance from lenders. The institution must post the code prominently on its website and ensure that its officers, employees, and agents who have financial aid responsibilities are informed annually of the code’s provisions. Aspen has adopted a code of conduct under the HEOA which is posted on its website. In addition to the code of conduct requirements that apply to institutions, HEOA contains provisions that apply to private lenders, prohibiting such lenders from engaging in certain activities as they interact with institutions. Failure to comply with the code of conduct provision could result in termination of our participation in Title IV programs, limitations on participation in Title IV programs, or financial penalties.


Misrepresentation. The Higher Education Act and current regulations authorize the DOE to take action against an institution that participates in Title IV programs for any “substantial misrepresentation” made by that institution regarding the nature of its educational program, its financial charges, or the employability of its graduates. Effective July 1, 2011, DOE regulations expanded the definition of “substantial misrepresentation” to cover additional representatives of the institution and additional substantive areas and expands the parties to whom a substantial misrepresentation cannot be made. The regulations also augment the actions the DOE may take if it determines that an institution has engaged in substantial misrepresentation. Under the final regulations, the DOE may revoke an institution’s program participation agreement, impose limitations on an institution’s participation in Title IV programs, or initiate proceedings to impose a fine or to limit, suspend, or terminate the institution’s participation in Title IV programs.


Credit Hours. The Higher Education Act and current 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 aid an institution may disburse during a payment period. Recently, both Congress and the DOE have increased their focus on institutions’ policies for awarding credit hours. Recent DOE regulations define the previously undefined term “credit hour” in terms of a certain amount of time in class and outside class, or an equivalent amount of work. The regulations also require accrediting agencies to review the reliability and accuracy of an institution’s credit hour assignments. 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 DOE determines that an institution is out of compliance with the credit hour definition, the DOE could require the institution to repay the incorrectly awarded amounts of Title IV aid. In addition, if the DOE determines that an institution has significantly overstated the amount of credit hours assigned to a program, the DOE may fine the institution, or limit, suspend, or terminate its participation in the Title IV programs.


Compliance Reviews. We are subject to announced and unannounced compliance reviews and audits by various external agencies, including the DOE, its Office of Inspector General, state licensing agencies, and accrediting agencies. As part of the DOE’s ongoing monitoring of institutions’ administration of Title IV programs, the Higher Education Act and DOE regulations require institutions to submit annually a compliance audit conducted by an independent certified public accountant in accordance with Government Auditing Standards and applicable audit standards of the DOE. These auditing standards differ from those followed in the audit of our financial statements contained herein. In addition, to enable the DOE to make a determination of financial responsibility, institutions must annually submit audited financial statements prepared in accordance with DOE regulations. Furthermore, the DOE regularly conducts program reviews of education institutions that are participating in the Title IV programs, and the Office of Inspector General of the DOE regularly conducts audits and investigations of such institutions. In August 2010, the Secretary of Education announced in a letter to several members of Congress that, in part in response to recent allegations against proprietary institutions of deceptive trade practices and noncompliance with DOE regulations, the DOE planned to strengthen its oversight of Title IV programs through, among other approaches, increasing the number of program reviews by 50%, from 200 conducted in 2010 to up to 300 reviews in 2011. Pending legislation including the “Students First Act” introduced in the United States Senate on February 28, 2013, would – if passed – increase the number of program reviews for various institutions deemed at-risk of violating DOE requirements.


Potential Effect of Regulatory Violations. If we fail to comply with the regulatory standards governing Title IV programs, the DOE could impose one or more sanctions, including transferring Aspen to the reimbursement or cash monitoring system of payment, seeking to require repayment of certain Title IV program funds, requiring Aspen to post a letter of credit in favor of the DOE as a condition for continued Title IV certification, taking emergency action against us, referring the matter for criminal prosecution or initiating proceedings to impose a fine or to limit, condition, suspend or terminate our participation in Title IV programs.



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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, such as present or former students or employees and other members of the public.


Restrictions on Adding Educational Programs. State requirements and accrediting agency standards may, in certain instances, limit our ability to establish additional programs. Many states require approval before institutions can add new programs under specified conditions. The Colorado Commission on Higher Education, and other state educational regulatory agencies that license or authorize us and our programs, may require institutions to notify them in advance of implementing new programs, and upon notification may undertake a review of the institution’s licensure or authorization.


In addition, we were advised by the DOE that because we were provisionally certified due to being a new Title IV program participant, we could not add new degree or non-degree programs for Title IV program purposes, except under limited circumstances and only if the DOE approved such new program, until the DOE reviewed a compliance audit that covered one complete fiscal year of Title IV program participation. That fiscal year ended on December 31, 2010, and we timely submitted our compliance audit and financial statements to the DOE. In addition, in June 2011, Aspen timely applied for recertification to participate in Title IV programs. The DOE extended Aspen's provisional certification until September 30, 2013. Aspen re-applied as of June 30, 2013 to continue its participation in the Title IV HEA programs.  On January 30, 2014, the DOE notified Aspen that it had the choice of posting a letter of credit for 25% of all Title IV funds and remain provisionally certified or post a 50% letter of credit and become permanently certified.  We elected to post a 25% letter of credit and remain provisionally certified – increasing our letter of credit to $848,225. In the future, the DOE may impose additional or different terms and conditions in any final program participation agreement that it may issue, including growth restrictions or limitation on the number of students who may receive Title IV aid.


Recent DOE regulations establish a new process under which an institution must apply for approval to offer a program that, under the Higher Education Act, must prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” in order to be eligible for Title IV funds. An institution must notify the DOE at least 90 days before the first day of classes when it intends to add a program that prepares students for gainful employment. The DOE may, as a condition of certification to participate in Title IV programs, require prior approval of programs or otherwise restrict the number of programs an institution may add.


DETC requires pre-approval of new courses, programs, and degrees that are characterized as a “substantive change.” An institution must obtain written notice approving such change before it may be included in the institution’s grant of accreditation. An institution is further prohibited from advertising or posting on its website information about the course or program before it has received approval. The process for obtaining approval generally requires submission of a report and course materials and may require a follow-up on-site visit by an examining committee.


Gainful Employment. Under the Higher Education Act, proprietary schools are eligible to participate in Title IV programs only in respect of education programs that lead to gainful employment in a recognized occupation. Under the DOE rules, with respect to each gainful employment program, a proprietary institution of higher education must disclose to prospective students with the identities of the occupations that the program prepares students to enter, total program cost, on-time completion rate, job placement rate (if applicable), and median loan debt of students who complete the program. Under the new program requirements, institutions are required to notify the DOE at least 90 days before the commencement of new gainful employment programs which must include information on the demand for the program, a wage analysis, an institutional program review and approval process, and a demonstration of accreditation. While the DOE had issued various additional reporting regulations, requiring institutions to annually submit information to the DOE regarding each enrolled student, including the amount of debt incurred, those reporting regulations were vacated in the June 2011 court decision discussed earlier herein, which was affirmed on appeal; new reporting regulations are expected to issue at some point. Institutions need not disclose or report gainful employment information on programs that are not eligible to participate in Title IV programs.


As part of the negotiated rulemaking process under the Higher Education Act, gainful employment rulemaking negotiations began in the fall of 2013 and continued into 2014.  However, the negotiators failed to reach consensus on gainful employment rules.  As a result, the DOE proposed a new gainful employment rule which it released in March 2014.   Under the proposed gainful employment regulation, gainful employment programs with high debt-to-earnings ratios or high program-level cohort default rates would lose Title IV eligibility for three years.  The proposed rule sets out two separate metrics.  These metrics are as follows:


·

Debt-to-earnings metric which requires that students who complete a program would need to spend on average no more than 8 percent of their annual income, or 20 percent of their discretionary income on their student loan payments; and




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·

Cohort default metric which requires no more than 30 percent of the students who enrolled or completed a program could default on their student loans.


The details on how these metrics are applied are detailed below.


GE Metrics

Debt-to-Earnings (DTE)

Program Cohort Default Rate

Students covered

Completers

Completers and Non-completers

 


Pass:

·

Annual DTE is 8% or less, or discretionary DTE is 20%


Zone:

A program is in the “zone” if it does not pass

and:

·

Annual DTE is more than 8% but less than 12%; OR

·

Discretionary DTE is more than 20% but less than 30%


Fail:

·

Annual DTE is greater than 12%; AND

·

Discretionary DTE is greater than 30%


Pass:

·

Program-level cohort default rate of less than 30%


[no zone]


Fail:

·

Program-level cohort default rate of 30% or higher

Multi-year test

A program becomes ineligible for Title IV for 3 years if:


·

It fails in any 2 out of 3 year period; OR


·

It does not pass in 1 out of 4 years. (e.g., yr 1: fail; yr 2: zone; yr 3: zone; yr 4: zone)

A program becomes ineligible for Title IV for 3 years if:


·

The 3-year default rate of 3 consecutive cohorts of students is greater than 30%

Additional restrictions

·

Institutions must issue debt warnings to students if the program could become ineligible at the end of the year


·

Title IV enrollment is limited to the previous year’s level for failing (but not zone) programs

·

Institutions must issue debt warnings to students if the program could become ineligible at the end of the year


·

Title IV enrollment is limited to the previous year’s level if the program could become ineligible at the end of the year.


The proposed rule also provides some protections for gainful employment programs with a low percentage of student borrowers.  Additionally, under the proposed rule programs would be obligated to meet necessary programmatic accreditation requirements as well as applicable state licensure standards for any state in the institution’s regional area.  Institutions would attest that their programs meet these requirements as part of their Title IV program participation agreement.  Additionally, the 2014 proposed rule includes significant new disclosure requirements for gainful employment programs, as well as a notice and approval process for the creation of new programs.


The DOE most likely will issue the final gainful employment regulation in October 2014 and the regulation is expected to go into effect July 1, 2015.  The new gainful employment reporting requirements will likely substantially increase our administrative burdens, particularly during the implementation phase. These reporting and the other procedural changes in the new rules could affect student enrollment, persistence and retention in ways that we cannot now predict. For example, if our reported program information compares unfavorably with other reporting education institutions, it could adversely affect demand for our programs.




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Although the rules regarding gainful employment metrics provide opportunities to address program deficiencies before the loss of Title IV eligibility, the continuing eligibility of our educational programs for Title IV funding is at risk under pending gainful employment rules due to factors beyond our control, such as changes in the actual or deemed income level of our graduates, changes in student borrowing levels, increases in interest rates, changes in the federal poverty income level relevant for calculating discretionary income, changes in the percentage of our former students who are current in repayment of their student loans, and other factors. In addition, even though deficiencies in the metrics may be correctible on a timely basis, the disclosure requirements to students following a failure to meet the standards may adversely impact enrollment in that program and may adversely impact the reputation of our education institution. The exposure to these external factors may reduce our ability to offer or continue confidently certain types of programs for which there is market demand, thus affecting our ability to maintain or grow our business.


Eligibility and Certification Procedures. Each institution must periodically apply to the DOE for continued certification to participate in Title IV programs. Such recertification is required every six years, but may be required earlier, including when an institution undergoes a change of control. An institution may come under the DOE’s review when it expands its activities in certain ways, such as opening an additional location, adding a new program, or, in certain cases, when it modifies academic credentials that it offers.


The DOE may place an institution on provisional certification status if it finds that the institution does not fully satisfy all of the eligibility and certification standards and in certain other circumstances, such as when it undergoes a change in ownership and control. The DOE may more closely review an institution that is provisionally certified if it applies for approval to open a new location, add an educational program, acquire another school or make any other significant change.


In addition, during the period of provisional certification, the institution must comply with any additional conditions included in its program participation agreement. If the DOE determines that a provisionally certified institution is unable to meet its responsibilities under its program participation agreement, it may seek to revoke the institution’s certification to participate in Title IV programs with fewer due process protections for the institution than if it were fully certified. Students attending provisionally certified institutions, like Aspen, remain eligible to receive Title IV program funds.


Change in Ownership Resulting in a Change of Control. In addition to school acquisitions, other types of transactions can also cause a change of control. The DOE, most state education agencies, and DETC all have standards pertaining to the change of control of schools, but those standards are not uniform. DOE regulations describe some transactions that constitute a change of control, including the transfer of a controlling interest in the voting stock of an institution or the institution’s parent corporation. DOE regulations provide that a change of control of a publicly-traded corporation occurs in one of two ways: (i) if there is an event that would obligate the corporation to file a Current Report on Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, disclosing a change of control or (ii) if the corporation has a shareholder that owns at least 25% of the total outstanding voting stock of the corporation and is the largest shareholder of the corporation, and that shareholder ceases to own at least 25% of such stock or ceases to be the largest shareholder. A significant purchase or disposition of our voting stock could be determined by the DOE to be a change of control under this standard. Many states include the sale of a controlling interest of common stock in the definition of a change of control requiring approval. A change of control under the definition of one of these agencies would require us to seek approval of the change in ownership and control to maintain our accreditation, state authorization or licensure. The requirements to obtain such approval from the states and DETC vary widely. In some cases, approval of the change of ownership and control cannot be obtained until after the transaction has occurred. In December 2011, we provided details regarding the Reverse Merger to the CDHE. The CDHE indicated that under current regulations, as long as we maintain accreditation by DETC following the Reverse Merger, Aspen will remain in good standing with the CDHE. As described below, DETC approved the change of ownership, with several customary conditions.




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DETC recently revised its policy pertinent to changes in legal status, control, ownership, or management. The policy revisions add definitions of the situations under which DETC considers a change in legal status, control, ownership, or management to occur, describe the procedures that an institution must follow to obtain approval, and clarify the options available to DETC. Among other revisions, DETC defines a change of ownership and control as a change in the ability to direct or cause the direction of the actions of an institution, including, for example, the sale of a controlling interest in an institution’s corporate parent. Failure to obtain prior approval of a change of ownership and control will result in withdrawal of accreditation under the new ownership. The policy also requires institutions to undergo a post-change examination within six months of a change of ownership. The revisions clarify that after such examination, DETC will make a final decision whether to continue the institution’s accreditation. In addition, if an institution is acquired by an entity that owns or operates other distance education institutions, the amendments clarify that any such institutions must obtain DETC approval within two years of the change of ownership or accreditation may be withdrawn. The policy revisions define a change of management as the replacement of the senior level executive of the institution, for example the President or Chief Executive Officer. In addition, the revisions clarify that before undertaking such a change, an institution must seek DETC’s prior approval by explaining when the change will occur, the rationale for the change, the executive’s job description, the new executive’s qualifications, and how the change will affect the institution’s ability to comply with all DETC accreditation standards. DETC may take any action it deems appropriate in response to a change of management request. The Reverse Merger was considered a change of control event under DETC’s policy. In February 2012, DETC informed Aspen that it had approved the change of ownership, with several conditions that are consistent with DETC’s change of ownership procedures and requirements. These conditions included: (1) that Aspen agree to undergo an examination visit by a committee; (2) that an updated Self-Evaluation Report be submitted four to six weeks prior to the on-site visit; (3) that Aspen submit a new Teach-Out Resolution form as soon as the Reverse Merger had closed; and (4) that Aspen provide written confirmation to DETC by February 20, 2012 that it agreed to and would comply with the stated conditions. We provided the requested information to DETC. The examination visit occurred in August 2012. Aspen is next scheduled for re-accreditation review by DETC in January 2015.


On September 28, 2012, the DOE approved Aspen's change of control and extended its provisional certification until September 30, 2013. On January 30, 2014, the DOE notified us that we had the choice of posting a letter of credit for 25% of all Title IV funds and remain provisionally certified or post a 50% letter of credit and become permanently certified.  We elected to post a 25% letter of credit and remain provisionally certified – increasing our letter of credit to $848,225.


When a change of ownership resulting in a change of control occurs at a for-profit institution, the DOE applies a different set of financial tests to determine the financial responsibility of the institution in conjunction with its review and approval of the change of ownership. The institution generally is required to submit a same-day audited balance sheet reflecting the financial condition of the institution immediately following the change in ownership. The institution’s same-day balance sheet must demonstrate an acid test ratio of at least 1:1, which is calculated by adding cash and cash equivalents to current accounts receivable and dividing the sum by total current liabilities (and excluding all unsecured or uncollateralized related party receivables). The same-day balance sheet must demonstrate positive tangible net worth. If the institution does not satisfy these requirements, the DOE may condition its approval of the change of ownership on the institution’s agreeing to post a letter of credit, provisional certification, and/or additional monitoring requirements, as described in the above section on Financial Responsibility. The time required for the DOE to act on a post-change in ownership and control application may vary substantially. As a result of the change of ownership, Aspen delivered a $264,665 letter of credit to the DOE in accordance with the standards identified above. Thereafter, as described above, this letter of credit was increased to $848,225.


A change of control also could occur as a result of future transactions in which Aspen is involved. Some corporate reorganizations and some changes in the Board are examples of such transactions. Moreover, the potential adverse effects of a change of control could influence future decisions by us and our shareholders regarding the sale, purchase, transfer, issuance or redemption of our stock. In addition, the regulatory burdens and risks associated with a change of control also could discourage bids for your shares of common stock and could have an adverse effect on the market price of your shares.


Possible Acquisitions. In addition to the planned expansion through Aspen’s new marketing program, we may expand through acquisition of related or synergistic businesses. Our internal growth is subject to monitoring and ultimately approval by the DETC. If the DETC finds that the growth may adversely affect our academic quality, the DETC can request us to slow the growth and potentially withdraw accreditation and require us to re-apply for accreditation. The DOE may also impose growth restrictions on an institution, including in connection with a change in ownership and control. While acquisitions of online universities would be subject to approval by the DETC, approval of businesses which supply services to online universities or which provide educational services and/or products may not be subject to regulatory approval or extensive regulation.




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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS.

 

Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the following Risk Factors before deciding whether to invest in Aspen. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us, or that we currently deem immaterial, may also impair our business operations or our financial condition. If any of the events discussed in the Risk Factors below occur, our business, consolidated financial condition, results of operations or prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In such case, the value and marketability of the common stock could decline.


Risks Relating to Our Business


If we are unable to generate positive cash flows from our operations or we are unable to raise capital, our ability to grow our business will be limited.

 

We incurred a net loss of approximately $5.35 million for the year ended April 30, 2014 and $6 million in 2012. On July 29, 2014, we raised $1,631,500 in a private placement.  The offering is continuing through August 31, 2014.  If we are unable to raise an additional $1,870,000, we will need to complete an additional financing in March 2015 to pay the final installment of our debentures due on April 1, 2015 and provide working capital. We cannot assure you that we will raise the necessary capital. In the event that we are not successful at generating positive cash flows or we are unable to raise capital, we will be required to reduce our operating expenses which will limit our ability to grow our business.


If we are unable to raise sufficient capital, we may have to scale back our operations, reduce our marketing spend and may encounter regulatory restrictions, any of which will adversely affect our results of operations.


Investors are subject to substantial risk if we do not raise enough capital as described in the Risk Factor above. Because of the continued volatility and disruption in worldwide capital and credit markets, potential deteriorating conditions in the U.S., ongoing financial issues in Europe, and difficulties which microcap companies have in raising capital, the lack of available credit for companies similar to us and our stock price, we may be hampered in our ability to raise the necessary working capital. As a result, we cannot give you any assurance that we will be successful in raising capital, and even if successful, we cannot give you assurance that it will be on terms favorable to us. If we do not raise the necessary working capital and if we do not generate sufficient revenues, we may not be able to remain operational or we may have to scale back our operations including our marketing spend which will adversely affect our future enrollments. Moreover, we operate in a regulated environment and are required to meet fiscal responsibility requirements set by the DOE and the DETC. If we fail to meet these requirements, we may be unable to offer federal loans to students and may be precluded from continuing in business.


Our business may be adversely affected by a further economic slowdown in the U.S. or abroad or by an economic recovery in the U.S.


The U.S. and much of the world economy are experiencing difficult economic circumstances. We believe the economic downturn in the U.S., particularly the continuing high unemployment rate, has contributed to a portion of our recent enrollment growth as an increased number of working students seek to advance their education to improve job security or reemployment prospects. This effect cannot be quantified. However, to the extent that the economic downturn and the associated unemployment have increased demand for our programs, an improving economy and increased employment may eliminate this effect and reduce such demand as fewer potential students seek to advance their education. We do not know whether the gradually reduced unemployment rate will reduce future demand for our services, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Conversely, a worsening of economic and employment conditions could adversely affect the ability or willingness of prospective students to pay our tuition and our former students to repay student loans, which could increase our bad debt expense, impair our ability to offer students loans under Title IV, and require increased time, attention and resources to manage defaults.




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If we cannot manage our growth, our results of operations may suffer and could adversely affect our ability to comply with federal regulations.


The growth that we have experienced after our new management began in May 2011, as well as any future growth that we experience, may place a significant strain on our resources and increase demands on our management information and reporting systems and financial management controls. If growth negatively impacts our ability to manage our business, the learning experience for our students could be adversely affected, resulting in a higher rate of student attrition and fewer student referrals. Future growth will also require continued improvement of our internal controls and systems, particularly those related to complying with federal regulations under the Higher Education Act, as administered by the DOE, including as a result of our participation in federal student financial aid programs under Title IV. If we are unable to manage our growth, we may also experience operating inefficiencies that could increase our costs and adversely affect our profitability and results of operations.


Because there is strong competition in the postsecondary education market, especially in the online education market, our cost of acquiring students may increase and our results of operations may be harmed.


Postsecondary education is highly fragmented and competitive. We compete with traditional public and private two-year and four-year brick and mortar colleges as well as other for-profit schools, particularly those that offer online learning programs. Public and private colleges and universities, as well as other for-profit schools, offer programs similar to those we offer. Public institutions receive substantial government subsidies, and public and private institutions have access to government and foundation grants, tax-deductible contributions that create large endowments and other financial resources generally not available to for-profit schools. Accordingly, public and private institutions may have instructional and support resources that are superior to those in the for-profit sector. In addition, some of our competitors, including both traditional colleges and universities and online for-profit schools, have substantially greater name recognition and financial and other resources than we have, which may enable them to compete more effectively for potential students. We also expect to face increased competition as a result of new entrants to the online education market, including established colleges and universities that have not previously offered online education programs. Recently, major brick and mortar universities have advertised their online course offerings.


We may not be able to compete successfully against current or future competitors and may face competitive pressures including price pressures that could adversely affect our business or results of operations and reduce our operating margins. These competitive factors could cause our enrollments, revenues and profitability to decrease significantly.


In the event that we are unable to update and expand the content of existing programs and develop new programs and specializations on a timely basis and in a cost-effective manner, our results of operations may be harmed.


The updates and expansions of our existing programs and the development of new programs and specializations may not be accepted by existing or prospective students or employers. If we cannot respond to changes in market 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 or as quickly as our competitors introduce competing programs. To offer a new academic program, we may be 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. In addition, a new academic program that must prepare students for gainful employment must be approved by the DOE for Title IV purposes if the institution is provisionally certified, which we are through March 31, 2015. If we are unable to respond adequately to changes in market requirements due to financial constraints, regulatory limitations or other factors, our ability to attract and retain students could be impaired and our financial results could suffer.


Establishing new academic programs or modifying existing programs may require us to make investments in management and faculty, incur marketing expenses and reallocate other resources. If we are unable to increase the number of students, or offer new programs in a cost-effective manner, or are otherwise unable to manage effectively the operations of newly established academic programs, our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.


Because our future growth and profitability will depend in large part upon the effectiveness of our marketing and advertising efforts, if those efforts are unsuccessful we may not be profitable in the future.


Our future growth and profitability will depend in large part upon our media performance, including our ability to:


Grow our nursing programs;

Create greater awareness of our school and our programs;



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Identify the most effective and efficient level of spending in each market and specific media vehicle;

Determine the appropriate creative message and media mix for advertising, marketing and promotional expenditures; and

Effectively manage marketing costs (including creative and media).


Our marketing expenditures may not result in increased revenue or generate sufficient levels of brand name and program awareness. If our media performance is not effective, our future results of operations and financial condition will be adversely affected.


Although our management has spearheaded an in-house marketing and advertising program, it may not be successful long-term.


Mr. Michael Mathews, our Chief Executive Officer, has developed a new marketing campaign designed to substantially increase our student enrollment and reducing and/or eliminating student debt. While initial results have been as anticipated, there are no assurances that this marketing campaign will continue to be successful. Among the risks are the following:


Our ability to compete with existing online colleges which have substantially greater financial resources, deeper management and academic resources, and enhanced public reputations;

the emergence of more successful competitors;

factors related to our marketing, including the costs of Internet advertising and broad-based branding campaigns;

limits on our ability to attract and retain effective employees because of the new incentive payment rule;

performance problems with our online systems;

our failure to maintain accreditation;

student dissatisfaction with our services and programs;

adverse publicity regarding us, our competitors or online or for-profit education generally;

a decline in the acceptance of online education;

a decrease in the perceived or actual economic benefits that students derive from our programs;

potential students may not be able to afford the monthly payments; and

potential students may not react favorably to our marketing and advertising campaigns, including our monthly payment plan.


If our new marketing campaign is not favorably received, our revenues may not increase. Moreover, in March 2014, we launched a monthly payment plan designed to encourage students to enroll in courses without borrowing. It is too soon to know if this plan will increase our revenues, although 24% of class starts in June 2014 were from students using a monthly payment program.


If we incur system disruptions to our online computer networks, it could impact our ability to generate revenue and damage our reputation, limiting our ability to attract and retain students.


Since early 2011, we have spent approximately $2 million to update our computer network primarily to permit accelerated student enrollment and enhance our students’ learning experience. We expect to spend $500,000 in capital expenditures over the next 12 months. The performance and reliability of our technology infrastructure is critical to our reputation and ability to attract and retain students. Any system error or failure, or a sudden and significant increase in bandwidth usage, could result in the unavailability of our online classroom, damaging our reputation and could cause a loss in enrollment. Our technology infrastructure could be vulnerable to interruption or malfunction due to events beyond our control, including natural disasters, terrorist activities and telecommunications failures.


If we are unable to develop awareness among, and attract and retain, high quality learners to Aspen University, our ability to generate significant revenue or achieve profitability will be significantly impaired.  


Building awareness of Aspen University and the programs we offer among working adult professionals is critical to our ability to attract prospective learners. If we are unable to successfully market and advertise our educational programs, Aspen University's ability to attract and enroll prospective learners in such programs could be adversely affected, and consequently, our ability to increase revenue or achieve profitability could be impaired. It is also critical to our success that we convert these prospective learners to enrolled learners in a cost-effective manner and that these enrolled learners remain active in our programs. Some of the factors that could prevent us from successfully enrolling and retaining learners in our programs include:


the emergence of more successful competitors;



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factors related to our marketing, including the costs of Internet advertising and broad-based branding campaigns;

performance problems with our online systems;

failure to maintain accreditation;

learner dissatisfaction with our services and programs, including with our customer service and responsiveness;

adverse publicity regarding us, our competitors, or online or for-profit education in general;

price reductions by competitors that we are unwilling or unable to match;

a decline in the acceptance of online education or our degree offerings by learners or current and prospective employers;

increased regulation of online education, including in states in which we do not have a physical presence;

a decrease in the perceived or actual economic benefits that learners derive from our programs;

litigation or regulatory investigations that may damage our reputation; and

difficulties in executing on our strategy as a preferred provider to employers for the vertical markets we serve.


If we are unable to continue to develop awareness of Aspen University and the programs we offer, and to enroll and retain learners, our enrollments would suffer and our ability to increase revenues and achieve profitability would be significantly impaired.


If we experience any interruption to our technology infrastructure, it could prevent students from accessing their courses, could have a material adverse effect on our ability to attract and retain students and could require us to incur additional expenses to correct or mitigate the interruption.


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


Because we rely on third parties to provide services in running our operations, if any of these parties fail to provide the agreed services at an acceptable level, it could limit our ability to provide services and/or cause student dissatisfaction, either of which could adversely affect our business.


We rely on third parties to provide us with services in order for us to efficiently and securely operate our business including our computer network and the courses we offer to students. Any interruption in our ability to obtain the services of these or other third parties or deterioration in their performance could impair the quality of our educational product and overall business. Generally, there are multiple sources for the services we purchase. Our business could be disrupted if we were required to replace any of these third parties, especially if the replacement became necessary on short notice, which could adversely affect our business and results of operations.


If we or our service providers are unable to update the technology that we rely upon to offer online education, our future growth may be impaired.


We believe that continued growth will require our service providers to increase the capacity and capabilities of their technology infrastructure. Increasing the capacity and capabilities of the technology infrastructure will require these third parties to invest capital, time and resources, and there is no assurance that even with sufficient investment their systems will be scalable to accommodate future growth. Our service providers may also need to invest capital, time and resources to update their technology in response to competitive pressures in the marketplace. If they are unwilling or unable to increase the capacity of their resources or update their resources appropriately and we cannot change over to other service providers efficiently, our ability to handle growth, our ability to attract or retain students, and our financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.




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Because we rely on third party administration and hosting of learning management system software for our online classroom, if that third party were to cease to do business or alter its business practices and services, it could have an adverse impact on our ability to operate.


Beginning in the second quarter of fiscal quarter 2015, our online classroom will employ the Desire2Learn learning management system, or D2L. The system is a web-based portal that stores and delivers course content, provides interactive communication between students and faculty, and supplies online evaluation tools. We rely on third parties to host and help with the administration of it. We further rely on third parties, the D2L agreement and our internal staff for ongoing support and customization and integration of the system with the rest of our technology infrastructure. If D2L were unable or unwilling to continue to provide us with service, we may have difficulty maintaining the software required for our online classroom or updating it for future technological changes. Any failure to maintain our online classroom would have an adverse impact on our operations, damage our reputation and limit our ability to attract and retain students.


Because the personal information that we or our vendors collect may be vulnerable to breach, theft or loss, any of these factors could adversely affect our reputation and operations.


Possession and use of personal information in our operations subjects us to risks and costs that could harm our business. Aspen uses a third party to collect 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 of our vendors. 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 legislative and regulatory burdens that could require notification of data breaches, restrict our use of personal information, and cause us to lose our certification to participate in the Title IV programs. We cannot guarantee that there will not be a breach, loss or theft of personal information that we store or our third parties store. 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 state and federal privacy statutes and legal or administrative actions by state attorneys general, private litigants, and federal regulators any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.


Because the CAN-SPAM Act imposes certain obligations on the senders of commercial emails, it could adversely impact our ability to market Aspen’s educational services, and otherwise increase the costs of our business.  


The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, or CAN-SPAM Act, establishes requirements for commercial email and specifies penalties for commercial email that violates the CAN-SPAM Act. In addition, the CAN-SPAM Act gives consumers the right to require third parties to stop sending them commercial email.


The CAN-SPAM Act covers email sent for the primary purpose of advertising or promoting a commercial product, service, or Internet website. The Federal Trade Commission, a federal consumer protection agency, is primarily responsible for enforcing the CAN-SPAM Act, and the Department of Justice, other federal agencies, State Attorneys General, and Internet service providers also have authority to enforce certain of its provisions.


The CAN-SPAM Act’s main provisions include:


Prohibiting false or misleading email header information;

Prohibiting the use of deceptive subject lines;

Ensuring that recipients may, for at least 30 days after an email is sent, opt out of receiving future commercial email messages from the sender;

Requiring that commercial email be identified as a solicitation or advertisement unless the recipient affirmatively permitted the message; and

Requiring that the sender include a valid postal address in the email message.


The CAN-SPAM Act also prohibits unlawful acquisition of email addresses, such as through directory harvesting and transmission of commercial emails by unauthorized means, such as through relaying messages with the intent to deceive recipients as to the origin of such messages.




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Violations of the CAN-SPAM Act’s provisions can result in criminal and civil penalties, including statutory penalties that can be based in part upon the number of emails sent, with enhanced penalties for commercial email companies who harvest email addresses, use dictionary attack patterns to generate email addresses, and/or relay emails through a network without permission.


The CAN-SPAM Act acknowledges that the Internet offers unique opportunities for the development and growth of frictionless commerce, and the CAN-SPAM Act was passed, in part, to enhance the likelihood that wanted commercial email messages would be received.


The CAN-SPAM Act preempts, or blocks, most state restrictions specific to email, except for rules against falsity or deception in commercial email, fraud and computer crime. The scope of these exceptions, however, is not settled, and some states have adopted email regulations that, if upheld, could impose liabilities and compliance burdens in addition to those imposed by the CAN-SPAM Act.


Moreover, some foreign countries, including the countries of the European Union, have regulated the distribution of commercial email and the online collection and disclosure of personal information. Foreign governments may attempt to apply their laws extraterritorially or through treaties or other arrangements with U.S. governmental entities.


Because we use email marketing, our requirement to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act could adversely affect Aspen's marketing activities and increase its costs.


If we lose the services of key personnel, it could adversely affect our business.


Our future success depends, in part, on our ability to attract and retain key personnel. Our future also depends on the continued services of Mr. Michael Mathews, our Chief Executive Officer, who is critical to the management of our business and operations and the development of our strategic direction and would also be difficult to replace. We have a $3 million key man life insurance policy on Mr. Mathews. The loss of the services of Mr. Mathews and other key individuals and the process to replace these individuals would involve significant time and expense and may significantly delay or prevent the achievement of our business objectives.


If we are unable to attract and retain our faculty, administrators, management and skilled personnel, we may not be able to support our growth strategy.


To execute our growth strategy, we must attract and retain highly qualified faculty, administrators, management and skilled personnel. Competition for hiring these individuals is intense, especially with regard to faculty in specialized areas. If we fail to attract new skilled personnel or faculty or fail to retain and motivate our existing faculty, administrators, management and skilled personnel, our business and growth prospects could be severely harmed.


If we are unable to protect our intellectual property, our business could be harmed.


In the ordinary course of our business, we develop intellectual property of many kinds that is or will be the subject of copyright, trademark, service mark, trade secret or other protections. This intellectual property includes but is not limited to courseware materials, business know-how and internal processes and procedures developed to respond to the requirements of operating and various education regulatory agencies. We rely on a combination of copyrights, trademarks, service marks, trade secrets, domain names, agreements and registrations to protect our intellectual property. We rely on service mark and trademark protection in the U.S. to protect our rights to the mark "ASPEN UNIVERSITY" as well as distinctive logos and other marks associated with our services. We rely on agreements under which we obtain rights to use course content developed by faculty members and other third party content experts. We cannot assure you that the measures that we take will be adequate or that we have secured, or will be able to secure, appropriate protections for all of our proprietary rights in the U.S. or select foreign jurisdictions, or that third parties will not infringe upon or violate our proprietary rights. Despite our efforts to protect these rights, unauthorized third parties may attempt to duplicate or copy the proprietary aspects of our curricula, online resource material and other content, and offer competing programs to ours.


In particular, third parties may attempt to develop competing programs or duplicate or copy aspects of our curriculum, online resource material, quality management and other proprietary content. Any such attempt, if successful, could adversely affect our business. Protecting these types of intellectual property rights can be difficult, particularly as it relates to the development by our competitors of competing courses and programs.




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We may encounter disputes from time to time over rights and obligations concerning intellectual property, and we may not prevail in these disputes. Third parties may raise a claim against us alleging an infringement or violation of the intellectual property of that third party.


If we are subject to intellectual property infringement claims, it could cause us to incur significant expenses and pay substantial damages.


Third parties may claim that we are infringing or violating their intellectual property rights. Any such claims could cause us to incur significant expenses and, if successfully asserted against us, could require that we pay substantial damages and prevent us from using our intellectual property that may be fundamental to our business. Even if we were to prevail, any litigation regarding the intellectual property could be costly and time-consuming and divert the attention of our management and key personnel from our business operations.


If we incur liability for the unauthorized duplication or distribution of class materials posted online during our class discussions, it may affect our future operating results and financial condition.


In some instances, our faculty members or our students may post various articles or other third party content on class discussion boards. We may incur liability for the unauthorized duplication or distribution of this material posted online for class discussions. Third parties may raise claims against us for the unauthorized duplication of this material. Any such claims could subject us to costly litigation and impose a significant strain on our financial resources and management personnel regardless of whether the claims have merit. As a result we may be required to alter the content of our courses or pay monetary damages.


Because we are an exclusively online provider of education, we are entirely dependent on continued growth and acceptance of exclusively online education and, if the recognition by students and employers of the value of online education does not continue to grow, our ability to grow our business could be adversely impacted.


We believe that continued growth in online education will be largely dependent on additional students and employers recognizing the value of degrees and courses from online institutions. If students and employers are not convinced that online schools are an acceptable alternative to traditional schools or that an online education provides value, or if growth in the market penetration of exclusively online education slows, growth in the industry and our business could be adversely affected. Because our business model is based on online education, if the acceptance of online education does not grow, our ability to continue to grow our business and our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.


As Internet commerce develops, federal and state governments may draft and propose new laws to regulate Internet commerce, which may negatively affect our business.


The increasing popularity and use of the Internet and other online services have led and may lead to the adoption of new laws and regulatory practices in the U.S. and to new interpretations of existing laws and regulations. These new laws and interpretations may relate to issues such as online privacy, copyrights, trademarks and service marks, sales taxes, fair business practices and the requirement that online education institutions qualify to do business as foreign corporations or be licensed in one or more jurisdictions where they have no physical location or other presence. New laws, regulations or interpretations related to doing business over the Internet could increase our costs and materially and adversely affect our enrollments, revenues and results of operations.


If there is new tax treatment of companies engaged in Internet commerce, this may adversely affect the commercial use of our marketing services and our financial results.


Due to the growing budgetary problems facing state and local governments, it is possible that governments might attempt to tax our activities. New or revised tax regulations may subject us to additional sales, income and other taxes. We cannot predict the effect of current attempts to impose taxes on commerce over the Internet. New or revised taxes and, in particular, sales or use taxes, would likely increase the cost of doing business online which could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations.




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Risks Related to the Regulation of Our Industry


If we fail to comply with the extensive regulatory requirements for our business, we could face penalties and significant restrictions on our operations, including loss of access to Title IV loans.


We are subject to extensive regulation by (1) the federal government through the DOE and under the Higher Education Act, (2) state regulatory bodies and (3) accrediting agencies recognized by the DOE, including the DETC, a “national accrediting agency” recognized by the DOE. The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regulate our participation in the military’s tuition assistance program and the VA’s veterans’ education benefits program, respectively. The regulations, standards and policies of these agencies cover the vast majority of our operations, including our educational programs, facilities, instructional and administrative staff, administrative procedures, marketing, recruiting, financial operations and financial condition. These regulatory requirements can also affect our ability to add new or expand existing educational programs and to change our corporate structure and ownership.


Institutions of higher education that grant degrees, diplomas, or certificates must be authorized by an appropriate state education agency or agencies. In addition, in certain states as a condition of continued authorization to grant degrees and in order to participate in various federal programs, including tuition assistance programs of the United States Armed Forces, a school must be accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Accreditation is a non-governmental process through which an institution submits to qualitative review by an organization of peer institutions, based on the standards of the accrediting agency and the stated aims and purposes of the institution. The Higher Education Act requires accrediting agencies recognized by the DOE to review and monitor many aspects of an institution's operations and to take appropriate action when the institution fails to comply with the accrediting agency's standards.


Our operations are also subject to regulation due to our participation in Title IV programs. Title IV programs, which are administered by the DOE, include loans made directly to students by the DOE. Title IV programs also include several grant programs for students with economic need as determined in accordance with the Higher Education Act and DOE regulations. To participate in Title IV programs, a school must receive and maintain authorization by the appropriate state education agencies, be accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, and be certified as an eligible institution by the DOE. Our growth strategy is partly dependent on being able to offer financial assistance through Title IV programs as it may increase the number of potential students who may choose to enroll in our programs.


The regulations, standards, and policies of the DOE, state education agencies, and our accrediting agencies change frequently. Recent and impending changes in, or new interpretations of, applicable laws, regulations, standards, or policies, or our noncompliance with any applicable laws, regulations, standards, or policies, could have a material adverse effect on our accreditation, authorization to operate in various states, activities, receipt of funds under tuition assistance programs of the United States Armed Forces, our ability to participate in Title IV programs, receipt of veterans education benefits funds, or costs of doing business. Findings of noncompliance with these regulations, standards and policies also could result in our being required to pay monetary damages, or being subjected to fines, penalties, injunctions, limitations on our operations, termination of our ability to grant degrees, revocation of our accreditation, restrictions on our access to Title IV program funds or other censure that could have a material adverse effect on our business.


If we do not maintain authorization in Colorado, our operations would be curtailed, and we may not grant degrees.


Aspen is headquartered in Colorado and is authorized by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education to grant degrees, diplomas or certificates. If we were to lose our authorization from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, we would be unable to provide educational services in Colorado and we would lose our eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs.


Our failure to comply with regulations of various states could have a material adverse effect on our enrollments, revenues, and results of operations.


Various states impose regulatory requirements on education institutions operating within their boundaries. Several states assert jurisdiction over online education institutions that have no physical location or other presence in the state but offer education services to students who reside in the state or advertise to or recruit prospective students in the state. State regulatory requirements for online education are inconsistent among states and not well developed in many jurisdictions. As such, these requirements change frequently and, in some instances, are not clear or are left to the discretion of state regulators.




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State laws typically establish standards for instruction, qualifications of faculty, administrative procedures, marketing, recruiting, financial operations, and other operational matters. To the extent that we have obtained, or obtain in the future, additional authorizations or licensure, changes in state laws and regulations and the interpretation of those laws and regulations by the applicable regulators may limit our ability to offer education programs and award degrees. Some states may also prescribe financial regulations that are different from those of the DOE. If we fail to comply with state licensing or authorization requirements, we may be subject to the loss of state licensure or authorization. If we fail to comply with state requirements to obtain licensure or authorization, we may be the subject of injunctive actions or penalties. Loss of licensure or authorization or the failure to obtain required licensures or authorizations could prohibit us from recruiting or enrolling students in particular states, reduce significantly our enrollments and revenues and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. We enroll students in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. We have sought and received confirmation that our operations do not require state licensure or authorization, or we have been notified that we are exempt from licensure or authorization requirements, in three states. We, through our legal counsel, are researching the licensure requirements and exemption possibilities in the remaining 47 states. It is anticipated that Aspen will be in compliance with all state licensure requirements by July 1, 2015. Because we enroll students in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, we may have to seek licensure or authorization in additional states in the future.


Under DOE regulations, if an institution offers postsecondary education through distance education to students in a state in which the institution is not physically located or in which it is otherwise subject to state jurisdiction as determined by that state, the institution must have met any state requirements for it to be legally offering postsecondary distance education in that state. A federal court has vacated such requirement, and an appellate court affirmed that ruling on June 5, 2012, though further guidance is expected. Should the requirement be upheld or otherwise enforced, however, and if we fail to obtain required state authorization to provide postsecondary distance education in a specific state, we could lose our ability to award Title IV aid to students within that state.


The DOE’s new requirement could lead some states to adopt new laws and regulatory practices affecting the delivery of distance education to students located in those states. In the event we are found not to be in compliance with a state’s new or existing requirements for offering distance education within that state, the state could seek to restrict one or more of our business activities within its boundaries, we may not be able to recruit students from that state, and we may have to cease providing service to students in that state. In addition, under the DOE’s regulation regarding state authorization and distance education, if and when the regulation is enforced or re-promulgated, we could lose eligibility to offer Title IV aid to students located in that state.


If we fail to maintain our institutional accreditation, we would lose our ability to participate in the tuition assistance programs of the U.S. Armed Forces and also to participate in Title IV programs.


Aspen is accredited by the DETC, which is a national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education for Title IV purposes. Accreditation by an accrediting agency that is recognized by the Secretary of Education is required for an institution to become and remain eligible to participate in Title IV programs as well as in the tuition assistance programs of the United States Armed Forces. DETC may impose restrictions on our accreditation or may terminate our accreditation. To remain accredited we must continuously meet certain criteria and standards relating to, among other things, performance, governance, institutional integrity, educational quality, faculty, administrative capability, resources and financial stability. Failure to meet any of these criteria or standards could result in the loss of accreditation at the discretion of the accrediting agency. The loss of accreditation would, among other things, render our students and us ineligible to participate in the tuition assistance programs of the U.S. Armed Forces or Title IV programs and have a material adverse effect on our enrollments, revenues and results of operations.


Because we have only recently begun to participate in Title IV programs, our failure to comply with the complex regulations associated with Title IV programs would have a significant adverse effect on our operations and prospects for growth.


We have only recently begun to participate in Title IV programs. Compliance with the requirements of the Higher Education Act and Title IV programs is highly complex and imposes significant additional regulatory requirements on our operations, which require additional staff, contractual arrangements, systems and regulatory costs. We have a limited demonstrated history of compliance with these additional regulatory requirements. If we fail to comply with any of these additional regulatory requirements, the DOE could, among other things, impose monetary penalties, place limitations on our operations, and/or condition or terminate our eligibility to receive Title IV program funds, which would limit our potential for growth and adversely affect our enrollment, revenues and results of operations.




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Because we are only provisionally certified by the DOE, we must reestablish our eligibility and certification to participate in the Title IV programs, and there are no assurances that DOE will recertify us to participate in the Title IV programs.


An institution generally must seek recertification from the DOE at least every six years and possibly more frequently depending on various factors. In certain circumstances, the DOE provisionally certifies an institution to participate in Title IV programs, such as when it is an initial participant in Title IV programs or has undergone a change in ownership and control. Beginning in 2009, and following our change of control in 2012, we have been provisionally certified.  On January 30, 2014, the DOE notified us that we had the choice of posting a letter of credit for 25% of all Title IV funds and remain provisionally certified or post a 50% letter of credit and become permanently certified.  We elected to post a 25% letter of credit and remain provisionally certified – increasing our letter of credit to $848,225. In the future, the DOE may impose additional or different terms and conditions in any final program participation agreement that it may issue, including growth restrictions or limitation on the number of students who may receive Title IV aid. The DOE could also decline to permanently certify Aspen, otherwise limit its participation in the Title IV programs, or continue provisional certification.


If the DOE does not ultimately approve our permanent 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 enrollments, revenues and results of operations. In addition, regulatory restraints related to the addition of new programs could impair our ability to attract and retain students and could negatively affect our financial results.


Because the DOE may conduct compliance reviews of us, we may be subject to adverse review and future litigation which could affect our ability to offer Title IV student loans.


Because we operate in a highly regulated industry, we are subject to compliance reviews and claims of non-compliance and lawsuits by government agencies, regulatory agencies, and third parties, including claims brought by third parties on behalf of the federal government. If the results of compliance reviews or other proceedings are unfavorable to us, or if we are unable to defend successfully against lawsuits or claims, we may be required to pay monetary damages or be subject to fines, limitations, loss of Title IV funding, injunctions or other penalties, including the requirement to make refunds. Even if we adequately address issues raised by an agency review or successfully defend a lawsuit or claim, we may have to divert significant financial and management resources from our ongoing business operations to address issues raised by those reviews or to defend against those lawsuits or claims. Claims and lawsuits brought against us may damage our reputation, even if such claims and lawsuits are without merit.


If the percentage of our revenues derived from Title IV programs is too high, we could lose our ability to participate in Title IV programs.


Under the Higher Education Act, an institution is subject to loss of eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs if, on a cash accounting basis, it derives more than 90% of its fiscal year revenue, for two consecutive fiscal years, from Title IV program funds.  An institution whose rate exceeds 90% for any single fiscal year is placed on provisional certification for at least two fiscal years and may be subject to other conditions specified by the U.S. Secretary of Education. This rule is known as the 90/10 rule.  We have only recently begun to participate in Title IV programs, but must remain aware of the 90/10 calculation.  Failure to comply with the 90/10 rule may result in restrictions on the amounts of Title IV funds that may be distributed to students; restrictions on expansion; requirements related to letters of credits or any other restrictions imposed by the DOE.  Additionally, if we are determined to be ineligible to participate in Title IV programs due to the 90/10 rule, any disbursements of Title IV funds while ineligible must be repaid to the DOE.    


Further, due to scrutiny of the sector, legislative proposals have been introduced in Congress that would heighten the requirements of the 90/10 rule, including proposals that would reduce the 90% maximum under the rule to 85% and/or prohibit tuition derived from military benefit programs to be included in the 85% portion.




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If our competitors are subject to further regulatory claims and adverse publicity, it may affect our industry and reduce our future enrollment.


We are one of a number of for-profit institutions serving the postsecondary education market. In recent years, regulatory investigations and civil litigation have been commenced against several companies that own for-profit educational institutions. These investigations and lawsuits have alleged, among other things, deceptive trade practices and non-compliance with DOE regulations. These allegations have attracted adverse media coverage and have been the subject of federal and state legislative hearings. Although the media, regulatory and legislative focus has been primarily on the allegations made against specific companies, broader allegations against the overall for-profit school sector may negatively affect public perceptions of other for-profit educational institutions, including Aspen. In addition, in recent years, reports on student lending practices of various lending institutions and schools, including for-profit schools, and investigations by a number of state attorneys general, Congress and governmental agencies have led to adverse media coverage of postsecondary education. A large competitor, Corinthian Colleges, recently announced it was selling or shutting down its schools due to substantial regulatory investigations and recent DOE actions. Adverse media coverage regarding other companies in the for-profit school sector or regarding us directly could damage our reputation, could result in lower enrollments, revenues and operating profit, and could have a negative impact on our stock price. Such allegations could also result in increased scrutiny and regulation by the DOE, Congress, accrediting bodies, state legislatures or other governmental authorities with respect to all for-profit institutions, including us.


Due to new regulations or congressional action or reduction in funding for Title IV programs, our future enrollment may be reduced and costs of compliance increased.


The Higher Education Act comes up for reauthorization by Congress approximately every five to six years. When Congress does not act on complete reauthorization, there are typically amendments and extensions of authorization. Additionally, Congress reviews and determines appropriations for Title IV programs on an annual basis through the budget and appropriations process. There is no assurance that Congress will not in the future enact changes that decrease Title IV program funds available to students, including students who attend our institution. 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 would require us to arrange for other sources of financial aid and would materially decrease our enrollment. Such a decrease in enrollment would have a material adverse effect on our revenues and results of operations. Congressional action may also require us to modify our practices in ways that could result in increased administrative and regulatory costs and decreased profit margin.


There has been growing regulatory action and investigations of for-profit companies that offer online education.  A larger competitor has accepted a deal with the DOE to sell or shut down most of its campuses.


We are not in position to predict with certainty whether any legislation will be passed by Congress or signed into law in the future. The reallocation of funding among Title IV programs, material changes in the requirements for participation in such programs, or the substitution of materially different Title IV programs could reduce the ability of students to finance their education at our institution and adversely affect our revenues and results of operations.


If our efforts to comply with DOE regulations are inconsistent with how the DOE interprets those provisions, either due to insufficient time to implement the necessary changes, uncertainty about the meaning of the rules, or otherwise, we may be found to be in noncompliance with such provisions and the DOE could impose monetary penalties, place limitations on our operations, and/or condition or terminate our eligibility to receive Title IV program funds. We cannot predict with certainty the effect the new and impending regulatory provisions will have on our business.




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Investigations by state attorneys general, Congress and governmental agencies regarding relationships between loan providers and educational institutions and their financial aid officers may result in increased regulatory burdens and costs.


In the past few years, the student lending practices of postsecondary educational institutions, financial aid officers and student loan providers were subject to several investigations being conducted by state attorneys general, Congress and governmental agencies. These investigations concern, among other things, possible deceptive practices in the marketing of private student loans and loans provided by lenders pursuant to Title IV programs. Higher Education Opportunity Act, or HEOA, contains new requirements pertinent to relationships between lenders and institutions. In particular, HEOA requires institutions to have a code of conduct, with certain specified provisions, pertinent to interactions with lenders of student loans, prohibits certain activities by lenders and guaranty agencies with respect to institutions, and establishes substantive and disclosure requirements for lists of recommended or suggested lenders of private student loans. In addition, HEOA imposes substantive and disclosure obligations on institutions that make available a list of recommended lenders for potential borrowers. State legislators have also passed or may be considering legislation related to relationships between lenders and institutions. Because of the evolving nature of these legislative efforts and various inquiries and developments, we can neither know nor predict with certainty their outcome, or the potential remedial actions that might result from these or other potential inquiries. Governmental action may impose increased administrative and regulatory costs and decrease profit margins.


Because we are subject to sanctions if we fail to calculate correctly and return timely Title IV program funds for students who stop participating before completing their educational program, our future operating results may be adversely affected.


A school 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, generally within 45 days after the date the school determines that the student has withdrawn. Under recently effective DOE regulations, institutions that use the last day of attendance at an academically-related activity must determine the relevant date based on accurate institutional records (not a student’s certificate of attendance). For online classes, “academic attendance” means engaging in an academically-related activity, such as participating in class through an online discussion or initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question; simply logging into an online class does not constitute “academic attendance” for purposes of the return of funds requirements. Because we only recently began to participate in Title IV programs, we have limited experience complying with these Title IV regulations. Under DOE regulations, late return of Title IV program funds for 5% or more of students sampled in connection with the institution's annual compliance audit constitutes material non-compliance. If unearned funds are not properly calculated and timely returned, we may have to repay Title IV funds, post a letter of credit in favor of the DOE or otherwise be sanctioned by the DOE, which could increase our cost of regulatory compliance and adversely affect our results of operations. This may have an impact on our systems, our future operations and cash flows.


If we fail to demonstrate “financial responsibility,” Aspen may lose its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs or be required to post a letter of credit in order to maintain eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.


To participate in Title IV programs, an eligible institution must satisfy specific measures of financial responsibility prescribed by the DOE, or post a letter of credit in favor of the DOE and possibly accept other conditions, such as additional reporting requirements or regulatory oversight, on its participation in Title IV programs. The DOE may also apply its measures of financial responsibility to the operating company and ownership entities of an eligible institution and, if such measures are not satisfied by the operating company or ownership entities, require the institution to meet the alternative standards described under “Regulation” on page 9 herein. Any of these alternative standards would increase our costs of regulatory compliance. If we were unable to meet these alternative standards, we would lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. If we fail to demonstrate financial responsibility and thus lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, our students would lose access to Title IV program funds for use in our institution, which would limit our potential for growth and adversely affect our enrollment, revenues and results of operations.




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If we fail to demonstrate “administrative capability,” we may lose eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.


DOE regulations specify extensive criteria an institution must satisfy to establish that it has the requisite “administrative capability” to participate in Title IV programs. If an institution fails to satisfy any of these criteria or comply with any other DOE regulations, the DOE may require the repayment of Title IV funds, transfer the institution from the "advance" system of payment of Title IV funds to cash monitoring status or to the "reimbursement" system of payment, place the institution on provisional certification status, or commence a proceeding to impose a fine or to limit, suspend or terminate the participation of the institution in Title IV programs. If we are found not to have satisfied the DOE's "administrative capability" requirements we could be limited in our access to, or lose, Title IV program funding, which would limit our potential for growth and adversely affect our enrollment, revenues and results of operations.


Because we rely on a third party to administer our participation in Title IV programs, its failure to comply with applicable regulations could cause us to lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.


We have been eligible to participate in Title IV programs for a relatively short time, and we have not developed the internal capacity to handle without third-party assistance the complex administration of participation in Title IV programs. A third party assists us with administration of our participation in Title IV programs, and if it does not comply with applicable regulations, we may be liable for its actions and we could lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. In addition, if it is no longer able to provide the services to us, we may not be able to replace it in a timely or cost-efficient manner, or at all, and we could lose our ability to comply with the requirements of Title IV programs, which would limit our potential for growth and adversely affect our enrollment, revenues and results of operation.


If we pay impermissible commissions, bonuses or other incentive payments to individuals involved in recruiting, admissions or financial aid activities, we will be subject to sanctions.


A school participating in Title IV programs may not provide any commission, bonus or other incentive payment based, directly or indirectly, on success in enrolling students or securing financial aid to any person involved in student recruiting or admission activities or in making decisions regarding the awarding of Title IV program funds. If we pay a bonus, commission, or other incentive payment in violation of applicable DOE rules, we could be subject to sanctions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. Effective July 1, 2011, the DOE abolished 12 safe harbors that described permissible arrangements under the incentive payment regulation. Abolition of the safe harbors and other aspects of the new regulation may create uncertainty about what constitutes impermissible incentive payments. The modified incentive payment rule and related uncertainty as to how it will be interpreted also may influence our approach, or limit our alternatives, with respect to employment policies and practices and consequently may affect negatively our ability to recruit and retain employees, and as a result our business could be materially and adversely affected.


In addition, the General Accounting Office, or the GAO, has issued a report critical of the DOE’s enforcement of the incentive payment rule, and the DOE has undertaken to increase its enforcement efforts. If the DOE determines that an institution violated the incentive payment rule, it may require the institution to modify its payment arrangements to the DOE’s satisfaction. The DOE may also fine the institution or initiate action to limit, suspend, or terminate the institution’s participation in the Title IV programs. The DOE may also seek to recover Title IV funds disbursed in connection with the prohibited incentive payments. In addition, third parties may file “qui tam” or “whistleblower” suits on behalf of the DOE alleging violation of the incentive payment provision. Such suits may prompt DOE investigations. Particularly in light of the uncertainty surrounding the new incentive payment rule, the existence of, the costs of responding to, and the outcome of, qui tam or whistleblower suits or DOE investigations could have a material adverse effect on our reputation causing our enrollments to decline and could cause us to incur costs that are material to our business, among other things. As a result, our business could be materially and adversely affected.


If our student loan default rates are too high, we may lose eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.


DOE regulations provide that an institution’s participation in Title IV programs ends when historical default rates reach a certain level in a single year or for a number of years. Because of our limited experience enrolling students who are participating in these programs, we have no historical default rates. Relatively few students are expected to enter the repayment phase in the near term, which could result in defaults by a few students having a relatively large impact on our default rate. If Aspen loses its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs because of high student loan default rates, our students would no longer be eligible to use Title IV program funds in our institution, which would significantly reduce our enrollments and revenues and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.




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If our institutional accrediting agency loses recognition by the U.S. Secretary of Education or we fail to maintain our institutional accreditation, we may lose our ability to participate in Title IV programs.


Increased regulatory scrutiny of accrediting agencies and their accreditation of universities is likely to continue. While Aspen is accredited by the DETC, a DOE-recognized accrediting body, if the DOE were to limit, suspend, or terminate the DETC’s recognition, we could lose our ability to participate in the Title IV programs. While the DOE has provisionally certified Aspen, there are no assurances that we will remain certified. If we were unable to rely on DETC accreditation in such circumstances, among other things, our students and our institution would be ineligible to participate in the Title IV programs, and such consequence would have a material adverse effect on enrollments, revenues and results of operations. In addition, increased scrutiny of accrediting agencies by the Secretary of Education in connection with the DOE’s recognition process may result in increased scrutiny of institutions by accrediting agencies.


Furthermore, because the for-profit education sector is growing at such a rapid pace, it is possible that accrediting bodies will respond to that growth by adopting additional criteria, standards and policies that are intended to monitor, regulate or limit the growth of for-profit institutions like us. Actions by, or relating to, an accredited institution, including any change in the legal status, form of control, or ownership/management of the institution, any significant changes in the institution’s financial position, or any significant growth or decline in enrollment and/or programs, could open up an accredited institution to additional reviews by the DETC.


If Aspen fails to meet standards regarding “gainful employment,” it may result in the loss of eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.


In March 2014, the DOE proposed a new gainful employment rule.   Under the proposed gainful employment rule, programs with high debt-to-earnings ratios or high program-level cohort default rates would lose Title IV eligibility for three years based on a variety of specific scenarios outlined by the DOE.  The final version of the gainful employment rule is expected to be released in October 2014 and go into effect on July 1, 2015.  While the final rule has not yet been released, we anticipate that under this new regulation, the continuing eligibility of our educational programs for Title IV funding may be at risk due to factors beyond our control, such as changes in the actual or deemed income level of our graduates, changes in student borrowing levels, increases in interest rates, changes in the federal poverty income level relevant for calculating discretionary income, changes in the percentage of our former students who are current in repayment of their student loans, and other factors. In addition, even though deficiencies in the metrics may be correctible on a timely basis, the disclosure requirements to students following a failure to meet the standards may adversely impact enrollment in that program and may adversely impact the reputation of our educational institutions.


If we fail to obtain required DOE approval for new programs that prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation, it could materially and adversely affect our business.


Under the DOE regulations, an institution must notify the DOE at least 90 days before the first day of class when it intends to add a program that prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. The institution may proceed to offer the program, unless the DOE advises the institution that the DOE must approve the program for Title IV purposes. In addition, if the institution does not provide timely notice to the DOE regarding the additional program, the institution must obtain approval of the program for Title IV purposes. If the DOE denies approval, the institution may not award Title IV funds in connection with the program. Were the DOE to deny approval to one or more of our new programs, our business could be materially and adversely affected. Furthermore, compliance with these new procedures could cause delay in our ability to offer new programs and put our business at a competitive disadvantage. Compliance could also adversely affect our ability to timely offer programs of interest to our students and potential students and adversely affect our ability to increase our revenues. As a result, our business could be materially and adversely affected.




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If we fail to comply with the DOE’s substantial misrepresentation rules, it could result in sanctions against us.


The DOE may take action against an institution in the event of substantial misrepresentation by the institution concerning the nature of its educational programs, its financial charges or the employability of its graduates. Under new regulations, the DOE has expanded the activities that constitute a substantial misrepresentation. Under the DOE regulations, an institution engages in substantial misrepresentation when the institution itself, one of its representatives, or an organization or person with which the institution has an agreement to provide educational programs, marketing, advertising, or admissions services, makes a substantial misrepresentation directly or indirectly to a student, prospective student or any member of the public, or to an accrediting agency, a state agency, or to the Secretary of Education. The final regulations define misrepresentation as any false, erroneous or misleading statement, and they define a misleading statement as any statement that has the likelihood or tendency to deceive or confuse. The final regulations define substantial misrepresentation as any misrepresentation on which the person to whom it was made could reasonably be expected to rely, or has reasonably relied, to the person’s detriment. If the DOE determines that an institution has engaged in substantial misrepresentation, the DOE may revoke an institution’s program participation agreement, impose limitations on an institution’s participation in the Title IV programs, deny participation applications made on behalf of the institution, or initiate a proceeding against the institution to fine the institution or to limit, suspend or termination the institution’s participation in the Title IV programs. We expect that there could be an increase in our industry of administrative actions and litigation claiming substantial misrepresentation, which at a minimum would increase legal costs associated with defending such actions, and as a result our business could be materially and adversely affected.


If we fail to comply with the DOE’s credit hour requirements, it could result in sanctions against us.


The DOE has defined “credit” hour for Title IV purposes. The credit hour is used for Title IV purposes to define an eligible program and an academic year and to determine enrollment status and the amount of Title IV aid that an institution may disburse in a payment period. The final regulations define credit hour as an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates certain specified time in class and out of class and an equivalent amount of work for other academic activities. The final regulations also require institutional accreditors to review an institution’s policies, procedures, and administration of policies and procedures for assignment of credit hours. An accreditor must take appropriate actions to address an institution’s credit hour deficiencies and to notify the DOE if it finds systemic noncompliance or significant noncompliance in one or more programs. The DOE has indicated that if it finds an institution to be out of compliance with the credit hour definition for Title IV purposes, it may require the institution to repay the amount of Title IV awarded under the incorrect assignment of credit hours and, if it finds significant overstatement of credit hours, it may fine the institution or limit, suspend, or terminate its participation in Title IV programs, as a result of which our business could be materially and adversely affected.


The U.S. Congress recently conducted an examination of the for-profit postsecondary education sector that could result in legislation or additional DOE rulemaking that may limit or condition Title IV program participation of proprietary schools in a manner that may materially and adversely affect our business.


In recent years, the U.S. Congress has increased its focus on for-profit education institutions, including with respect to their participation in the Title IV programs, and has held hearings regarding such matters. In addition, the GAO released a series of reports following undercover investigations critical of for-profit institutions. We cannot predict the extent to which, or whether, these hearings and reports will result in legislation, further rulemaking affecting our participation in Title IV programs, or more vigorous enforcement of Title IV requirements.  Additionally, the DOE recently created a special unit for the purpose of monitoring publicly traded for-profit educational institutions.  Moreover, political consideration could result in a reduction of Title IV funding. To the extent that any laws or regulations are adopted that limit or condition Title IV program participation of proprietary schools or the amount of federal student financial aid for which proprietary school students are eligible, our business could be materially and adversely affected.


Unfavorable laws and regulations may impede our growth.


Existing and future laws and regulations may create increased regulatory risk, which could impede our growth. These regulations and laws may cover consumer protection, mobile communications, privacy, data protection, electronic communications, pricing and taxation.  




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Other Risks


Because our common stock is subject to the “penny stock” rules, brokers cannot generally solicit the purchase of our common stock which adversely affects its liquidity and market price.


The Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, has adopted regulations which generally define “penny stock” to be an equity security that has a market price of less than $5.00 per share, subject to specific exemptions. The market price of our common stock on the Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board, or the Bulletin Board, is substantially less than $5.00 per share and therefore we are considered a “penny stock” according to SEC rules. This designation requires any broker-dealer selling these securities to disclose certain information concerning the transaction, obtain a written agreement from the purchaser and determine that the purchaser is reasonably suitable to purchase the securities. These rules limit the ability of broker-dealers to solicit purchases of our common stock and therefore reduce the liquidity of the public market for our shares.


Moreover, as a result of apparent regulatory pressure from the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a growing number of broker-dealers decline to permit investors to purchase and sell or otherwise make it difficult to sell shares of penny stocks like Aspen. This may have a depressive effect upon our common stock price.


Because of their share ownership, our management may be able to exert control over us to the detriment of minority shareholders.


As of July 25, 2014, our executive officers and directors owned approximately 17.6% of our outstanding common stock.  These shareholders, if they act together, may be able to control our management and affairs and all matters requiring shareholder approval, including significant corporate transactions. This concentration of ownership may have the effect of delaying or preventing our change in control and might affect the market price of our common stock.


If our common stock becomes subject to a “chill” imposed by the Depository Trust Company, or DTC, your ability to sell your shares may be limited.


The DTC acts as a depository or nominee for street name shares that investors deposit with their brokers. Until December of 2012, our stock was not eligible to be electronically transferred among DTC participants (broker-dealers) and required delivery of paper certificates as a result of a “chill” imposed by DTC. As a result of becoming “DTC-Eligible”, our common stock is no longer subject to a chill. However, DTC in the last several years has increasingly imposed a chill or freeze on the deposit, withdrawal and transfer of common stock of issuers whose common stock trades on the Bulletin Board. Depending on the type of restriction, a chill or freeze can prevent shareholders from buying or selling shares and prevent companies from raising money. A chill or freeze may remain imposed on a security for a few days or an extended period of time (in at least one instance a number of years). While we have no reason to believe a chill or freeze will be imposed against our common stock again in the future, if it were your ability to sell your shares would be limited. In such event, your investment will be adversely affected.


Due to factors beyond our control, our stock price may be volatile.


Any of the following factors could affect the market price of our common stock:


Our failure to generate increasing material revenues;

Our failure to become profitable or meet our publicly announced goal of achieving positive adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes,  Depreciation and Amortization;

Our failure to raise working capital;

Our public disclosure of the terms of any financing which we consummate in the future;

Disclosure of the results of our monthly payment plan;

Actual or anticipated variations in our quarterly results of operations;

Announcements by us or our competitors of significant contracts, new services, acquisitions, commercial relationships, joint ventures or capital commitments;

The loss of Title IV funding or other regulatory actions;

Our failure to meet financial analysts performance expectations;

Changes in earnings estimates and recommendations by financial analysts;

The sale of large numbers of shares of common stock which we have registered;

Short selling activities; or



33




Changes in market valuations of similar companies.


In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been instituted. A securities class action suit against us could result in substantial costs and divert our management’s time and attention, which would otherwise be used to benefit our business.


Because we may issue preferred stock without the approval of our shareholders and have other anti-takeover defenses, it may be more difficult for a third party to acquire us and could depress our stock price.


Our Board may issue, without a vote of our shareholders, one or more additional series of preferred stock that have more than one vote per share. This could permit our Board to issue preferred stock to investors who support us and our management and give effective control of our business to our management. Additionally, issuance of preferred stock could block an acquisition resulting in both a drop in our stock price and a decline in interest of our common stock. This could make it more difficult for shareholders to sell their common stock. This could also cause the market price of our common stock shares to drop significantly, even if our business is performing well.


Because we may not be able to attract the attention of major brokerage firms, it could have a material impact upon the price of our common stock.


It is not likely that securities analysts of major brokerage firms will provide research coverage for our common stock since the firm itself cannot recommend the purchase of our common stock under the penny stock rules referenced in an earlier risk factor. The absence of such coverage limits the likelihood that an active market will develop for our common stock. It may also make it more difficult for us to attract new investors at times when we acquire additional capital.


Since we intend to retain any earnings for development of our business for the foreseeable future, you will likely not receive any dividends for the foreseeable future.


We have not and do not intend to pay any dividends in the foreseeable future, as we intend to retain any earnings for development and expansion of our business operations. As a result, you will not receive any dividends on your investment for an indefinite period of time.


If we do not successfully defend the pending litigation brought by our former chairman and large shareholder, we may incur material damages.


In 2013, our former Chairman and a company he controls sued us, certain senior management members and our directors in state court in New York seeking damages arising from losses and other matters incurred in the operation of Aspen’s business since May 2011, our filings with the SEC and the DOE where we stated that he and his company borrowed $2.2 million without board authority and our failure to use our best efforts to purchase certain shares of common stock from him. While we have been advised by our counsel that the lawsuit is baseless, we cannot assure you that we will be successful. Defending the litigation will be expensive and divert our management from Aspen’s business. If we are unsuccessful, the damages we pay may be material.  In addition, after dismissal by the Court in New York of certain claims, the Plaintiffs filed a shareholders’ derivative action in the Delaware Chancery Court against most of our directors and a former officer.  While any recovery will be paid to the Company, defense of derivative suits is generally expensive.  See Item 3 “Legal Proceedings” below for a further description of the litigation.

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS.


None.


ITEM 2. PROPERTIES.


Our corporate headquarters are located in a facility in Denver, Colorado, consisting of approximately 3,900 square feet of office space under a lease that expires in September 2015. This facility accommodates our academic operations. Our executive offices are in New York City where we lease approximately 2,000 square feet under a month-to-month sublease. We operate a call center in Scottsdale, Arizona where we lease approximately 2,600 square feet under a three-year term. We believe that our existing facilities are suitable and adequate and that we have sufficient capacity to meet our current anticipated needs.




34




ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS.


Spada New York Litigation


By order dated November 4, 2013, the New York Supreme Court dismissed all of Plaintiffs’ claims, except for the claims for breach of contract and defamation per se. Details of the litigation are described below under “Background of Spada New York Litigation.”  In response to the remaining claims, the Company has filed multiple counterclaims for fraud, to recover the $2.2 million the Company asserts was misappropriated by the Plaintiffs and other related claims. Plaintiffs’ moved to dismiss the counterclaims, and that motion is being considered by the Court.


Background of Spada New York Litigation


On February 11, 2013, the former chairman of Aspen University, Mr. Patrick Spada and Higher Education Management Group, Inc., which we refer to as “HEMG”, a corporation he controls, filed suit against the Company, Aspen University Inc., the Company’s Board of Directors, the Company’s Chief Executive and Financial Officers and an unrelated party in the New York Supreme Court located in Manhattan.


The gravamen of Mr. Spada’s claims are that the officers and directors breached their fiduciary duty and defamed Mr. Spada by (a) including false and defamatory statements to the effect that Mr. Spada owes approximately $2 million to the Company in various of the Company’s SEC and Department of Education filings, (b) imprudently managed the Company’s assets by spending too much money on certain marketing and promotional efforts and by using the Company’s funds for expenses which were not intended to benefit the Company. Mr. Spada also claims that the Company breached two separate agreements with Mr. Spada and his company, one of which involved the Company agreeing to purchase certain shares of Aspen stock under certain conditions, and one consulting agreement. As discussed below, the Company believes that none of these claims have any merit in either fact or law.


The Company and the other defendants believe that the suit is baseless and was filed primarily because the Company refused to purchase additional shares of the Plaintiffs’ common stock of the Company on unacceptable terms.


The Plaintiffs’ allegations that false or defamatory statements were included in the Company’s filings are based on the following disclosures in multiple SEC and DOE filings: “…Aspen discovered in November 2011 that HEMG had borrowed $2,195,084 from it from 2005 to 2012 without Board of Directors authority. Aspen has been unable to reach any agreement with Mr. Spada concerning repayment and is considering its options.” In the same filings, the Company disclosed that “There is no agreement with the former chairman that this sum is due and in fact he has denied liability and even claimed that Aspen owes him money.”


The Plaintiffs’ allegations concerning imprudent management of its funds are categorically false. The Company has also been advised that claims of this type can only be brought in what is called a shareholders’ derivative action where, assuming liability, the ultimate beneficiary is the Company and not the Plaintiffs. Counsel has further advised the management of the Company’s affairs and how its funds are expended are protected from a disgruntled stockholder’s opinion of how funds should have been spent by the business judgment rule and the provision in the Company’s charter eliminating liability for such claims. The remaining breach of fiduciary duty claim falsely alleges that travel expenses and work was performed by the Company on behalf of another corporation for which the Company’s Chief Executive Officer then served as Chairman of the Board. Such claims are categorically false, but even if true, like the remaining breach of fiduciary claims, the ultimate beneficiary is the Company and not the Plaintiffs.


The breach of contract claims consist of two distinct claims: first, Aspen University entered into a two-year Consulting Agreement in September 2011 with Mr. Spada. The Company terminated the Consulting Agreement in about November 2011 after it learned of the former Chairman’s $2.2 million unauthorized borrowing without board approval alleging that the Consulting Agreement was induced by fraud.




35




The second claim arises from an April 4, 2012 Agreement with the Plaintiffs in which only certain of the defendants were parties, which we refer to as the “April Agreement.”  Under the April Agreement, an individual defendant who has never been an officer or director of the Company agreed to purchase from Spada’s corporation 400,000 shares of the Company’s common stock at $0.50 per share. The complaint acknowledges that this purchase occurred. Under the April Agreement, the Company also agreed (i) that it would purchase an additional 600,000 shares from Mr. Spada’s company at $0.50 per share within 90 days from the date of the April Agreement, and (ii) that the Company would use its best efforts to locate a purchaser to buy another 1,400,000 shares at $0.50 per share from Mr. Spada’s company, and once that purchaser was located, to buy the shares and resell them to the new investor. The Company in fact did purchase the additional 600,000 shares and Mr. Spada’s company was paid the proceeds. The Company did use its best efforts to locate a new investor for the final 1,400,000 shares, however, given the fact that the Company during that same timeframe was selling its own common stock at $0.35 per share, it was not able to find any buyers who would pay $0.50 per share. Also, the Company’s obligation to locate a new purchaser expired under the terms of the April Agreement after 180 days, which have long passed. Under the terms of the April Agreement, the Plaintiffs agreed not to file suit against the Company, Aspen University and their officers and directors, unless sued by the Company or Aspen University.


Spada Delaware Litigation


On November 21, 2013, the Plaintiffs’ commenced a derivative action in the Chancery Court of the State of Delaware, asserting mirror image claims that were dismissed in New York against the directors (not the company), for breach of fiduciary duty (by making allegedly false and misleading statements in the public filings), corporate waste (for allegedly spending too much money on marketing), dilution of shareholder equity (for issuing shares which Plaintiffs themselves approved), aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty (based on same public filings). The directors have filed a motion to dismiss all of these claims, which motion was argued on July 15, 2014 with decision reserved.


ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES.


Not applicable.

  



36




PART II


ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES.

 

Our stock trades on the Bulletin Board, under the symbol “ASPU.” Since March 31, 2011, Aspen Group’s common stock has been quoted on the Bulletin Board. The last reported sale price of Aspen’s common stock as reported by the Bulletin Board on July 28, 2014 was $0.14. As of that date, we had 241 record holders. A substantially greater number of holders of our common stock are “street name” or beneficial holders, whose shares are held of record by banks, brokers, and other financial institutions.


The following table provides the high and low bid price information for our common stock. The prices reflect inter-dealer prices, without retail mark-up, mark-down or commission and does not necessarily represent actual transactions. Our common stock does not trade on a regular basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prices

 

Year

 

 

Period Ended

 

 

High

 

 

Low

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

($)

 

 

($)

 

Fiscal 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 30

 

 

 

0.20

 

 

 

0.101

 

 

 

 

January 31

 

 

 

0.23

 

 

 

0.12

 

 

 

 

October 31

 

 

 

0.335

 

 

 

0.176

 

 

 

 

July 31

 

 

 

0.51

 

 

 

0.25

 

Fiscal 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 30

 

 

 

0.55

 

 

 

0.26

 

 

 

 

January 31

 

 

 

0.80

 

 

 

0.50

 

 

 

 

October 31

 

 

 

3.75

 

 

 

0.75

 

 

 

 

July 31

 

 

 

3.75

 

 

 

3.75

 


Dividend Policy

 

We have not paid cash dividends on our common stock and do not plan to pay such dividends in the foreseeable future. Our Board will determine our future dividend policy on the basis of many factors, including results of operations, capital requirements, and general business conditions.

 

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

 

None


Securities Authorized for Issuance under Equity Compensation Plans


The information required by this item with respect to our equity compensation plans is incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed with the SEC within 120 days of the fiscal year ended April 30, 2014.

 

ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA.

 

Not applicable.




37




ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

This discussion should be read in conjunction with the other sections contained herein, including the risk factors and the consolidated financial statements and the related exhibits contained herein. The various sections of this discussion contain a number of forward-looking statements, all of which are based on our current expectations and could be affected by the uncertainties and risk factors described throughout this report as well as other matters over which we have no control. Our actual results may differ materially. See “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.”

 

Company Overview


Founded in 1987, Aspen’s mission is to offer any motivated college-worthy student the opportunity to receive a high quality, responsibly priced distance-learning education for the purpose of achieving sustainable economic and social benefits for themselves and their families. Because we believe higher education should be a catalyst to our students’ long-term economic success, we exert financial prudence by offering affordable tuition that is one of the greatest values in online higher education. On March 20, 2014, Aspen University unveiled a monthly payment plan aimed at reversing the college-debt sentence plaguing working-class Americans. The monthly payment plan offers bachelor students the opportunity to pay $250/month for 60 months ($15,000) and master/doctoral students the opportunity to pay $325/month for 36 months ($11,700), thereby giving students the ability to earn a degree debt free. In the four months since the announcement, already 24% of courses are now paid through monthly payment methods.

 

One of the key differences between Aspen and other publicly-traded, exclusively online, for-profit universities is an emphasis on post-graduate degree programs (master or doctorate). As of April 30, 2014, 2,485 students were enrolled as full-time degree-seeking students with 2,162 of those students or 87% in a master or doctoral graduate degree program.


Student Population


Aspen’s full-time degree-seeking student body increased by 33% during the fiscal year ended April 30, 2014, from 1,875 to 2,485 students. In addition, 1,087 students are engaged in part-time programs, such as continuing education courses and certificate level programs (includes 506 part-time undergraduate military students).


Our most popular school is now our School of Nursing. Aspen’s School of Nursing has grown from 5% of our full-time, degree-seeking student body at year-end 2011, to 33% of our full-time, degree-seeking student body at April 30, 2014. Aspen’s School of Nursing grew from 376 to 828 students during fiscal year 2014, which represented 74% of Aspen’s fiscal year 2014 full-time degree-seeking student body growth.

 

Results of Operations


Note:  Because Aspen Group changed its fiscal year from December 31st to April 30th effective April 30, 2013, the comparisons which follow are for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2104 to the calendar year ended December 31, 2012.


For the Year Ended April 30, 2014 Compared with Year Ended December 31, 2012


Revenue


Revenue for the year ended April 30, 2014 increased to $3,981,722 from $2,684,931 for the year ended December 31, 2012, an increase of 48%. The increase is primarily attributable to the growth in revenues from Aspen’s Nursing degree programs which increased to $1,433,972 from $409,938, an increase of 350%.


Our fiscal year 2014 and calendar year 2012 revenues were impacted by the 2010 (and previous years) pre-payment tuition plan, or the Legacy Tuition Plan, which was discontinued on July 15, 2011. The Legacy Tuition Plan had students paying full-rate tuition for a degree program’s first four courses ($675/course) and a steeply discounted tuition rate for the program’s eight course balance ($112.50/course). Specifically, the Plan produced immediate cash flow, but unsustainably low gross profit margins over the length of the degree program. At April 30, 2014, 19% of our class starts on average were from students on the Legacy Tuition Plan. However, those Legacy Tuition Plan students only represented approximately 5% of Aspen’s full-time degree-seeking revenues for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2014. During fiscal year 2015, the number of old Legacy Tuition Plan students will cease to be material.




38




Cost of Revenues


The Company’s cost of revenues consists of instructional costs and services and marketing and promotional costs which were previously reported separately.


Instructional Costs and Services


Instructional costs and services for the year ended April 30, 2014, was $836,274, an increase of 13% or $97,663, from the December 31, 2012 amount of $738,611. The increase is primarily attributable to increased enrollment.  As student enrollment levels increase, instructional costs and services should rise commensurately. However, as Aspen increases its full-time degree-seeking student enrollments, the higher gross margins associated with such students should lead to the growth rate in instructional costs and services to lag that of overall revenues.


Marketing and Promotional


Marketing and promotional costs for the year ended April 30, 2014 decreased to $1,023,490, from $1,330,201, for the year ended December 31, 2012, a decrease of 23% or $306,711. This decrease reflects more efficient use of internet advertising and higher conversion rates.  With the cash from our recently completed offering, we expect that beginning in November 2014 internet advertising expenses will increase by approximately $50,000 per month and sales expenses will increase by $60,000 per month.  


Gross Profit (exclusive of depreciation or amortization) of Aspen operations rose to $2,121,958 or 53%, for the year ended April 30, 2014, from $616,119 or 23%, for the year ended December 31, 2012.This increase reflects the decrease in influence of the lower tuition paid by the students under the Legacy Tuition Plan and our more efficient marketing programs.


Costs and Expenses


General and Administrative


General and administrative costs for the year ended April 30, 2014, increased to $6,300,229, from $5,508,507 for the year ended December 31, 2012, an increase of 14% or $791,722. This increase reflects a $300,000 increase in stock compensation expense, $200,000 in additional expenses relating to a Title IV program review, $156,000 in warrant expense and $90,000 in legal fees associated with the Spada lawsuit.


Receivable Collateral Valuation Reserve


Due to a change in the estimated value of the collateral supporting the Account Receivable, secured – related party from $1.00/share to $0.35/share based on the financing by Aspen Group that closed September 28, 2012, a non-cash valuation reserve expense of $502,315 was recorded for the year ended December 31, 2012. An additional expense of $123,647 was recognized during the year ended April 30, 2014, for a decrease in the stock price from $0.35 to $0.19.


Depreciation and Amortization


Depreciation and amortization costs for the year ended April 30, 2014, increased by $76,829 to $474,752, from $397,923 for the year ended December 31, 2012, an increase of 19%. The increase is primarily attributable to higher levels of capitalized technology costs as Aspen continues the infrastructure build-out initiated in 2011.


Other Income (Expense)


Other expense for the year ended April 30, 2014, increased to $658,341, from $354,418 for the year ended December 31, 2012, an increase of $303,923 or 86%. The increase is primarily attributable to interest expense related to the debentures payable during the period including the related amortization of debt issue costs and the debt discount. In addition, interest expense for the year ended April 30, 2014 included approximately $60,000 in interest paid to the loan from our CEO.




39




Income Taxes


Income taxes expense (benefit) for the year ended April 30, 2014 and for the year ended December 31, 2012 were $0 as Aspen Group experienced operating losses in both periods. As management made a full valuation allowance against the deferred tax assets stemming from these losses, there was no tax benefit recorded in the statement of operations in both periods.


Net Loss


Net loss allocable to common shareholders for the year ended April 30, 2014, decreased to ($5,350,348) from ($6,048,113) for the year ended December 31, 2012, a decrease of 11%. The decrease is primarily attributable to higher gross profits and management’s efforts to contain costs at all levels.  The losses were also higher in 2012 due to the Reverse Merger and the costs of becoming a publicly-traded company.


Discontinued Operations


As of March 31, 2013, Aspen Group discontinued business activities related to its agreement with CLS 123, LLC, or CLS. See Note 1 of the consolidated financial statements contained herein. The following table details the results of the discontinued operations for the years ended April 30, 2014, and December 31, 2012:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the year

 

 

For the year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ended

 

 

ended

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 30,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Revenues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

549,125

 

 

$

2,332,283

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costs and expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructional costs and services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

494,213

 

 

 

2,026,928

 

General and administrative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(29,751

)

 

 

169,045

 

Total costs and expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

464,462

 

 

 

2,195,973

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of income taxes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

84,663

 

 

$

136,310

 


For the Four Months Ended April 30, 2013 Compared with the Four Months Ended April 30, 2012

 

Revenue


Revenue from continuing operations for the four months ended April 30, 2013, which we refer to as the 2013 Transition Period increased to $1,229,096 from $745,656 for the four months ended April 30, 2012, or the 2012 Transition Period, an increase of 65%. The increase is primarily attributable to the growth in Aspen student enrollments and the increase in average tuition rates from approximately $500 to $700 for the comparable periods. Of particular note, revenues from Aspen’s Nursing degree program increased to $287,902 during the 2013 Transition Period from $107,640 during the 2012 Transition Period, an increase of 167%.

 

Our 2013 Transition Period and 2012 Transition Period revenues were impacted by the 2011 (and previous years) pre-payment tuition plan, or the Legacy Tuition Plan, which was discontinued on July 15, 2011. The Legacy Tuition Plan had students pre-paying tuition for a degree program’s first four courses ($675/course) and a steeply discounted tuition rate for the program’s eight course balance ($112.50/course). Specifically, the Legacy Tuition Plan produced immediate cash flow, but unsustainably low gross profit margins over the length of the degree program. As of April 30, 2013, 709 of our full-time degree-seeking students were still enrolled under the Legacy Tuition Plan. However the contribution from Legacy Tuition Plan students to overall Aspen revenue and profits diminished steadily over the course of the past 12 months as the population of full-time degree-seeking students paying regular tuition rates increased to 68% of the population and the population of Legacy Tuition Plan students fell to 32%. Accordingly, much as 2012 was affected negatively by the lingering impact of the Legacy Tuition Plan, future revenue should demonstrate a dramatically diminished effect from the Legacy Tuition Plan and a much greater contribution from the growing number of regular rate students. In fact, Aspen Group expects Legacy Tuition Plan students’ contribution to financial results to be immaterial for fiscal year 2015.



40




Cost of Revenues (exclusive of depreciation and amortization)


The Company’s cost of revenues consists of instructional costs and services and marketing and promotional costs which were previously reported separately.


Instructional Costs and Services


Instructional costs and services for the 2013 Transition Period rose to $345,727 from $266,682 for the 2012 Transition Period, an increase of $79,045 or 30%. The increase is primarily attributable to higher faculty cost due to the increase in overall student course completions. As student enrollment levels increase, instructional costs and services should rise proportionately. However, as Aspen increases its full-time degree-seeking student enrollments, the higher gross margins associated with such students should lead to the growth rate in instructional costs and services to significantly lag that of overall revenues growth.


Marketing and Promotional

 

Marketing and promotional costs for the 2013 Transition Period was $404,203 compared to $598,728 for the 2012 Transition Period, a decrease of $194,525 or 32%. These expenses are primarily attributable to marketing efficiency – specifically Aspen’s cost per exclusive lead has decreased by 33% year-over-year for the Transition Period, from an average cost per exclusive lead of $78.27 for the 2012 Transition Period to $58.66 for the 2013 Transition Period. Moreover, Aspen’s vertically-integrated strategy of proprietary lead generation marketing has effectively allowed the Company to drop the marketing spend by 32% year-over-year, while achieving 63% more new full-time, degree-seeking enrollments year-over-year.


Costs and Expenses


General and Administrative


General and administrative costs for the 2013 Transition Period were $1,670,812 compared to $2,123,685 during the 2012 Transition Period, a decrease of $452,873 or 21%. The decrease is comprised of two major components – payroll costs and professional fees. Payroll costs decreased by approximately $225,000 and professional fees decreased by approximately $276,000 primarily related to legal and accounting fees. Included in the 2012 amounts were professional fees associated with the reverse merger regulatory filings with the DOE and the DETC, post-reverse merger regulatory filings with the DOE, the filing of the Super 8-K and activities for Aspen’s capital raising activities. Professional fees declined during the 2013 Transition Period, particularly as a result of a reduction of these one-time costs and Aspen Group’s auditors agreeing to a flat-fee arrangement. Stock based compensation included in general and administration expense increased by $72,457 or 89% as a result of the implementation of, and stock option grants under, the 2012 Equity Incentive Plan.


Depreciation and Amortization


Depreciation and amortization costs for the 2013 Transition Period rose to $159,269 from $121,812 for the 2012 Transition Period, an increase of 31%. The increase is primarily attributable to higher levels of capitalized technology costs as Aspen continues the infrastructure build-out initiated in 2011.


Other Income (Expense)


Other income for the 2013 Transition Period increased to $59,860 from $3,617 in the 2012 Transition Period, an increase of $56,243. The increase is primarily attributable to a tax credit received in Canada related to our technology infrastructure build out.


Income Taxes

 

Income taxes expense (benefit) for the 2013 and 2012 Transition Periods was $0 as Aspen Group experienced operating losses in both periods. As management made a full valuation allowance against the deferred tax assets stemming from these losses, there was no tax benefit recorded in the statement of operations in both periods.

 



41




Net Loss

 

Net loss allocable to common stockholders for the 2013 Transition Period was ($1,402,982) as compared to ($2,213,119) for the 2012 Transition Period, a decrease of $810,138 or approximately 58%. The decrease is primarily attributable to the absence of the one-time costs in general and administrative cost and the gross profit improvements discussed above.


Discontinued Operations


As of March 31, 2013, Aspen Group discontinued business activities related to its agreement with CLS. See Note 1 of the consolidated financial statements contained herein. The following table details the results of the discontinued operations for the 2013 Transition Period and 2012 Transition Period:


 

 

For the Four Months

 

 

 

Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues

 

$

140,732

 

 

$

1,077,875

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costs and expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenue

 

 

126,659

 

 

 

929,362

 

General and Administrative

 

 

126,000

 

 

 

 

Total costs and expenses

 

 

252,659

 

 

 

929,362

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of income taxes

 

$

(111,927

)

 

$

148,513

 


Non-GAAP – Financial Measures


The following discussion and analysis includes both financial measures in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, as well as non-GAAP financial measures. Generally, a non-GAAP financial measure is a numerical measure of a company’s performance, financial position or cash flows that either excludes or includes amounts that are not normally included or excluded in the most directly comparable measure calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP. Non-GAAP financial measures should be viewed as supplemental to, and should not be considered as alternatives to net income, operating income, and cash flow from operating activities, liquidity or any other financial measures. They may not be indicative of the historical operating results of Aspen Group nor are they intended to be predictive of potential future results. Investors should not consider non-GAAP financial measures in isolation or as substitutes for performance measures calculated in accordance with GAAP.


Our management uses and relies on Adjusted EBITDA and Gross Profit (exclusive of depreciation and amortization), non-GAAP financial measures. We believe that both management and shareholders benefit from referring to the following non-GAAP financial measures in planning, forecasting and analyzing future periods. Our management uses these non-GAAP financial measures in evaluating its financial and operational decision making and as a means to evaluate period-to-period comparison. Our management recognizes that the non-GAAP financial measures have inherent limitations because of the described excluded items.


Aspen Group defines Adjusted EBITDA as earnings (or loss) from continuing operations before preferred dividends, interest expense, collateral valuation adjustment, bad debt expense, depreciation and amortization, warrant conversion expense, non-recurring charges and amortization of stock-based compensation. Aspen Group excludes the charges from collateral valuation adjustment, bad debt expense and stock based compensation because they are non-cash in nature. The preferred dividends were derived from Aspen. Upon the closing of the Reverse Merger, Aspen preferred stock was exchanged for Aspen Group common stock and dividends will not accrue in the future.  In 2014, Aspen Group excluded non-recurring charges.  Adjusted EBITDA is an important measure of our operating performance because it allows management, investors and analysts to evaluate and assess our core operating results from period-to-period after removing the impact of items of a non-operational nature that affect comparability.


Aspen Group defines Gross Profit (exclusive of depreciation and amortization), a non-GAAP financial measure, as revenues less cost of revenues (instructional costs and services and marketing and promotional costs) excluding the amortization of courseware and software.




42




We have included a reconciliation of our non-GAAP financial measures to the most comparable financial measure calculated in accordance with GAAP. We believe that providing the non-GAAP financial measures, together with the reconciliation to GAAP, helps investors make comparisons between Aspen Group and other companies. In making any comparisons to other companies, investors need to be aware that companies use different non-GAAP measures to evaluate their financial performance. Investors should pay close attention to the specific definition being used and to the reconciliation between such measure and the corresponding GAAP measure provided by each company under applicable SEC rules.


The following table presents a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to Net loss allocable to common shareholders, a GAAP financial measure:


 

 

For the year

 

 

For the year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ended

 

 

ended

 

 

For the

 

 

 

April 30,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

Four Months Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2012

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

Net loss allocable to common shareholders

 

$

(5,350,348

)

 

$

(6,048,113

)

 

$

(1,402,982

)

 

$

(2,213,119

)

Accretion of preferred dividends

 

 

 

 

 

37,379

 

 

 

 

 

 

37,379

 

Interest Expense, net of interest income

 

 

230,931

 

 

 

93,824

 

 

 

6,407

 

 

 

2,261

 

Bad Debt Expense

 

 

154,732

 

 

 

302,952

 

 

 

37,000

 

 

 

32,955

 

Depreciation & Amortization

 

 

474,752

 

 

 

397,923

 

 

 

159,269

 

 

 

121,812

 

Receivable collateral valuation reserve

 

 

123,647

 

 

 

502,315

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amortization of prepaid services

 

 

285,084

 

 

 

113,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amortization of debt issue costs

 

 

131,657

 

 

 

266,473

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amortization of debt discount

 

 

294,640

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warrant conversion exercise expense

 

 

156,952

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-recurring charges

 

 

504,973

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stock-based compensation

 

 

608,429

 

 

 

347,657

 

 

 

154,062

 

 

 

81,605

 

Adjusted EBITDA (Loss)

 

$

(2,384,551

)

 

$

(3,986,590

)

 

$

(1,046,244

)

 

$

(1,937,107

)


The following table presents a reconciliation of Gross Profit (exclusive of depreciation and amortization), a non-GAAP financial measure, to gross profit calculated in accordance with GAAP:


 

 

For the year

 

 

For the year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ended

 

 

ended

 

 

For the

 

 

 

April 30,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

Four Months Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2012

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Unaudited)

 

Revenues

 

$

3,981,722

 

 

$

2,684,931

 

 

$

1,229,096

 

 

$

745,656

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Costs of revenues (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately

 

 

1,859,764

 

 

 

2,068,812

 

 

 

749,930

 

 

 

865,408

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gross profit (exclusive of depreciation and amortization

 

 

2,121,958

 

 

 

616,119

 

 

 

479,166

 

 

 

(119,752

)

 

 

 

53

%

 

 

23

%

 

 

39

%

 

 

-16

%

Amortization expenses excluded from cost of revenues

 

 

439,937

 

 

 

368,014

 

 

 

145,331

 

 

 

112,286

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAAP gross profit

 

$

1,682,021

 

 

$

248,105

 

 

$

333,835

 

 

$

(232,038

)

 

 

 

42

%

 

 

9

%

 

 

27

%

 

 

-31

%



43




For the year ended April 30, 2014, the Gross Profit (exclusive of depreciation and amortization) was $2,122,008 or 53% vs. a gross profit of $616,119 or 23% for the year ended December 31, 2012, an increase of $1,505,889 or a margin increase of 30%. The increase in Gross Profit (exclusive of depreciation and amortization) and gross margin percentage is primarily the result of the growth in tuition revenues and the increase in average tuition rates, coupled with the efficiencies realized in lower cost per exclusive leads and higher enrollments noted above.


For the 2013 Transition Period, the Gross Profit (exclusive of depreciation and amortization) was $479,166 or 39% vs. a gross loss of $119,759 or (16)% for the comparable period in the prior year, an increase of $598,925 or a margin increase of 55%. The increase in Gross Profit (exclusive of depreciation and amortization) and gross margin percentage is primarily the result of the growth in tuition revenues and the increase in average tuition rates, coupled with the efficiencies realized in lower cost per exclusive leads and higher enrollments noted above.


Capital Resources and Liquidity


A summary of our cash flows is as follows:


 

 

For the Year

 

 

For the Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ended

 

 

Ended

 

 

Four Months Ended

 

 

 

April 30,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2012

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash used in operating activities

 

$

(3,664,964

)

 

$

(4,522,710

)

 

$

(918,941

)

 

$

(1,132,264

)

Net cash used in investing activities

 

 

(995,652

)

 

 

(619,801

)

 

 

(166,395

)

 

 

(59,511

)

Net cash provided by financing activities

 

 

4,114,283

 

 

 

4,901,548

 

 

 

1,041,540

 

 

 

938,765

 

Net cash provided by discontinued operations

 

 

68,731

 

 

 

51,599

 

 

 

191,540

 

 

 

78,398

 

Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents

 

$

(477,602

)

 

$

(189,364

)

 

$

147,744

 

 

$

(174,612

)


Net Cash Used in Operating Activities


Net cash used in operating activities during the year ended April 30, 2014 totaled ($3,664,964) and resulted primarily from a net loss from continuing operations of ($5,435,011) offset by non-cash items of $2,229,893 and a net change in operating assets and liabilities of ($459,847). Net cash used in operating activities include non-recurring expenses of $504,973 which are comprised of primarily professional fees related to activities discussed previously (see General & Administrative Expense above).


Net cash used in operating activities during the year ended December 31, 2012 totaled ($4,522,710) and resulted primarily from a net loss from continuing operations of ($6,147,044) offset by non-cash items of $1,796,910 and a net change in operating assets and liabilities of ($172,576). Net cash used in operating activities include non-recurring expenses of $702,093 which are comprised of professional fees related to activities discussed previously (see General & Administrative Expense above).


Net cash used in operating activities during the 2013 Transition Period totaled ($918,914) and resulted primarily from a net loss of ($1,402,982) offset by non-cash items of $350,331, of which the $159,269 in Depreciation and Amortization and $154,062 in Stock based compensation were the most significant, and a net change in operating assets and liabilities of $918,941, of which the $288,117, increase in accounts receivable was the most significant.


Net cash used in operating activities during the 2012 Transition Period totaled ($1,132,264) and resulted primarily from a net loss of ($2,213,119) offset by non-cash items of $236,372 and a net change in operating assets and liabilities of $957,361.


Net Cash Used in Investing Activities


Net cash used in investing activities during the year ended April 30, 2014 totaled ($995,652) and resulted primarily from capitalized technology and courseware expenditures of ($392,527) and a net increase of restricted cash of ($603,125).  


Net cash used in investing activities during the year ended December 31, 2012 totaled ($619,801) and resulted primarily from capitalized technology and courseware expenditures of ($505,146) and a net increase of restricted cash of ($264,992), offset by officer loan repayments received of $150,000.




44




Net cash used in investing activities during the 2013 Transition Period totaled ($166,395) and resulted primarily from capitalized technology expenditures.


Net cash used in investing activities during the 2012 Transition Period totaled ($59,511), resulting primarily from capitalized technology expenditures of ($200,933), offset by officer loan repayments received of $150,000.


Net Cash Provided By Financing Activities


Net cash provided by financing activities during the year ended April 30, 2014 totaled $4,114,283 which resulted primarily from proceeds from the net issuance of debt and equity securities and warrants of $3,389,299 offset by issuance costs of ($48,240), proceeds from a warrant exercise of $804,049, a debt repayment of ($25,000) and a reduction of a line of credit of ($5,824).


Net cash provided by financing activities during the year ended December 31, 2012 totaled $4,901,548 which resulted primarily from proceeds from the net issuance of debt and equity securities and warrants of $5,370,021 offset by issuance costs of ($266,473) and the repurchase of treasury shares of ($202,000).


Net cash provided by financing activities during the 2013 Transition Period totaled $1,041,540 which resulted primarily from the issuance of common shares and warrants.


Net cash provided by financing activities during the 2012 Transition Period totaled $938,765 and resulted primarily from proceeds from the issuance of convertible notes.


Liquidity and Capital Resources


Historically, our primary source of liquidity is cash receipts from tuition and the issuances of debt and equity securities. The primary uses of cash are payroll related expenses, professional expenses and instructional and marketing expenses.


As of July 29, 2014, our cash balances (excluding $898,225 in restricted cash) were approximately $1,790,000.  On July 29, 2014, we raised approximately $1,630,000 from an initial closing of a $4,030,000 private placement; the offering continues until August 31, 2014. No broker-dealer was involved. We expect to receive at least $1,870,000 in additional proceeds. If we raise at least a total of $3,500,000 in this private placement, we plan to use the proceeds to pre-pay our $2,240,000 in debentures. Installments of $560,000 in principal plus accrued interest are due November 1, 2014 and January 1, 2015 with the final principal installment of $1,120,000 due April 1, 2015.


If we raise less than $3,500,000, we expect we will need to complete a financing no later than late March 2015 to pay the debentures. Depending on the final proceeds in the current offering, we may not be able to expand our sales and marketing as anticipated beginning in November, which will affect our growth.


Depending on our cash position, we may spend approximately $500,000 in capital expenditures over the next 12 months. These capital expenditures will be allocated across growth initiatives including expansion of Aspen’s call center activities subject to academic courseware development and further improvements in Aspen’s technology infrastructure. Depending on management’s efforts to realize efficiencies in technology development, our capital expenditures may be less than anticipated.


Our cash balances are kept liquid to support our needs. The majority of our cash is concentrated in large financial institutions.


Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates


In response to financial reporting release FR-60, Cautionary Advice Regarding Disclosure About Critical Accounting Policies, from the SEC, we have selected our more subjective accounting estimation processes for purposes of explaining the methodology used in calculating the estimate, in addition to the inherent uncertainties pertaining to the estimate and the possible effects on the our financial condition. The accounting estimates are discussed below and involve certain assumptions that, if incorrect, could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations and financial condition.




45




Revenue Recognition and Deferred Revenue


Revenue consisting primarily of tuition and fees derived from courses taught by Aspen online as well as from related educational resources that Aspen provides to its students, such as access to our online materials and learning management system. Tuition revenue is recognized pro-rata over the applicable period of instruction. Aspen maintains an institutional tuition refund policy, which provides for all or a portion of tuition to be refunded if a student withdraws during stated refund periods. Certain states in which students reside impose separate, mandatory refund policies, which override Aspen’s policy to the extent in conflict. If a student withdraws at a time when a portion or none of the tuition is refundable, then in accordance with its revenue recognition policy, Aspen recognizes as revenue the tuition that was not refunded. Since Aspen recognizes revenue pro-rata over the term of the course and because, under its institutional refund policy, the amount subject to refund is never greater than the amount of the revenue that has been deferred, under Aspen’s accounting policies revenue is not recognized with respect to amounts that could potentially be refunded. Aspen’s educational programs have starting and ending dates that differ from its fiscal quarters. Therefore, at the end of each fiscal quarter, a portion of revenue from these programs is not yet earned and is therefore deferred. Aspen also charges students annual fees for library, technology and other services, which are recognized over the related service period. Deferred revenue represents the amount of tuition, fees, and other student payments received in excess of the portion recognized as revenue and it is included in current liabilities in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets. Other revenue may be recognized as sales occur or services are performed.


Revenue Recognition and Deferred Revenue – Discontinued Operations


Aspen entered into certain revenue sharing arrangements with consultants whereby the consultants developed course content primarily for technology related courses, recommend, but not select, faculty, lease equipment on behalf of Aspen for instructional purposes for the on-site laboratory portion of distance learning courses and make introductions to corporate and government sponsoring organizations who provide students for the courses. Aspen has evaluated ASC 605-45 "Principal Agent Considerations" and determined that there are more indicators than not that Aspen is the primary obligor in the arrangements since Aspen establishes the tuition, interfaces with the student or sponsoring organization, selects the faculty, is responsible for delivering the course, is responsible for issuing any degrees or certificates, and is responsible for collecting the tuition and fees. The gross tuition and fees are included in revenue while the revenue sharing payments are included in instructional costs and services, an operating expense. As a result of presenting this component as discontinued operations, the revenue is now included in income from discontinued operations for all periods presented.


Accounts Receivable and Allowance for Doubtful Accounts Receivable


All students are required to select both a primary and secondary payment option with respect to amounts due to Aspen for tuition, fees and other expenses. The most common payment option for Aspen’s students is personal funds or payment made on their behalf by an employer. In instances where a student selects financial aid as the primary payment option, he or she often selects personal cash as the secondary option. If a student who has selected financial aid as his or her primary payment option withdraws prior to the end of a course but after the date that Aspen’s institutional refund period has expired, the student will have incurred the obligation to pay the full cost of the course. If the withdrawal occurs before the date at which the student has earned 100% of his or her financial aid, Aspen will have to return all or a portion of the Title IV funds to the DOE and the student will owe Aspen all amounts incurred that are in excess of the amount of financial aid that the student earned and that Aspen is entitled to retain. In this case, Aspen must collect the receivable using the student’s second payment option.


For accounts receivable from students, Aspen records an allowance for doubtful accounts for estimated losses resulting from the inability, failure or refusal of its students to make required payments, which includes the recovery of financial aid funds advanced to a student for amounts in excess of the student’s cost of tuition and related fees. Aspen determines the adequacy of its allowance for doubtful accounts using a general reserve method based on an analysis of its historical bad debt experience, current economic trends, and the aging of the accounts receivable and student status. Aspen applies reserves to its receivables based upon an estimate of the risk presented by the age of the receivables and student status. Aspen writes off accounts receivable balances at the time the balances are deemed uncollectible. Aspen continues to reflect accounts receivable with an offsetting allowance as long as management believes there is a reasonable possibility of collection.


For accounts receivable from primary payors other than students, Aspen estimates its allowance for doubtful accounts by evaluating specific accounts where information indicates the customers may have an inability to meet financial obligations, such as bankruptcy proceedings and receivable amounts outstanding for an extended period beyond contractual terms. In these cases, Aspen uses assumptions and judgment, based on the best available facts and circumstances, to record a specific allowance for those customers against amounts due to reduce the receivable to the amount expected to be collected. These specific allowances are re-evaluated and adjusted as additional information is received. The amounts calculated are analyzed to determine the total amount of the allowance. Aspen may also record a general allowance as necessary.




46




Direct write-offs are taken in the period when Aspen has exhausted its efforts to collect overdue and unpaid receivables or otherwise evaluate other circumstances that indicate that Aspen should abandon such efforts.


Related Party Transactions


Our Chief Executive Officer has loaned us $1,600,000.  In July 2014, he extended the due dates of two $300,000 convertible notes and a $1,000,000 note payable until January 1, 2016.


In March 2014, our former Chief Financial Officer resigned to pursue other interests. Effective November 1, 2014, we entered into a consulting agreement with him and agreed to pay him $150,000 for services as a part-time consultant.  


New Accounting Pronouncements


See Note 2 to our April 30, 2014 consolidated financial statements included herein for discussion of recent accounting pronouncements.


Cautionary Note Regarding Forward Looking Statements


This report includes forward-looking statements including statements regarding liquidity and capital expenditures.

 

The words “believe,” “may,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “should,” “plan,” “could,” “target,” “potential,” “is likely,” “will,” “expect” and similar expressions, as they relate to us, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs.

 

The results anticipated by any or all of these forward-looking statements might not occur. Important factors, uncertainties and risks that may cause actual results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements are contained in the Risk Factors contained herein. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as the result of new information, future events or otherwise. For more information regarding some of the ongoing risks and uncertainties of our business, see the Risk Factors and our other filings with the SEC. 


ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK.

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA.

 

The requirements of this Item can be found beginning on page F-1.

 

ITEM 9. CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE.

 

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 9A. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES.

 

Evaluation of Disclosure Controls and Procedures

 

Our management carried out an evaluation, with the participation of our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, of the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures as defined in Rule 13a-15(e) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Based on their evaluation, our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer concluded that our disclosure controls and procedures were effective as of the end of the period covered by this report.

 



47




Management’s Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting (as defined in Rule 13a-15(f) under the Exchange Act). Our management, under the supervision and with the participation of our Principal Executive Officer and Principal Financial Officer, evaluated the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of the end of the period covered by this report. In making this assessment, our management used the criteria set forth by the Committee of Sponsor Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) in Internal Control-Integrated Framework. Based on that evaluation, our management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective based on that criteria.

 

Our internal control over financial reporting is a process designed under the supervision of our Principal Executive Officer and Principal Financial Officer to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of our financial statements for external reporting purposes in accordance with GAAP. Internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (i) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of our assets; (ii) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with GAAP, and that receipts and expenditures are being made only in accordance with authorizations of our management and directors; and (iii) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use or disposition of our assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

 

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with policies or procedures may deteriorate.

 

Changes in Internal Control over Financial Reporting

 

There were no changes in our internal control over financial reporting during the period covered by this report that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect our internal control over financial reporting.

 

ITEM 9B. OTHER INFORMATION.

 

None.

 

 



48




PART III


ITEM 10. DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE


The information required by this item is incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed with the SEC within 120 days of the fiscal year ended April 30, 2014.


Our Board of Directors has adopted a Code of Ethics applicable to all officers, directors and employees, which is available on our website (http://ir.aspen.edu/governance-documents) under "Corporate Governance." We intend to satisfy the disclosure requirement under Item 5.05 of Form 8-K regarding amendment to, or waiver from, a provision of our Code of Ethics and by posting such information on our website at the address and location specified above.


ITEM 11. EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION.

 

The information required by this item is incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed with the SEC within 120 days of the fiscal year ended April 30, 2014.

 

ITEM 12. SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT AND RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS.


The information required by this item is incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed with the SEC within 120 days of the fiscal year ended April 30, 2014.

 

ITEM 13. CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS, AND DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE.


The information required by this item is incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed with the SEC within 120 days of the fiscal year ended April 30, 2014.

 

ITEM 14. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTING FEES AND SERVICES.

 

The information required by this item is incorporated by reference to our Proxy Statement for the 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed with the SEC within 120 days of the fiscal year ended April 30, 2014.




49




PART IV

 

ITEM 15. EXHIBITS, FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES.

 

(a)

Documents filed as part of the report.

 

 

(1)

Financial Statements. See Index to Consolidated Financial Statements, which appears on page F-1 hereof. The financial statements listed in the accompanying Index to Consolidated Financial Statements are filed herewith in response to this Item.

 

 

(2)

Financial Statements Schedules. All schedules are omitted because they are not applicable or because the required information is contained in the consolidated financial statements or notes included in this report.

 

 

(3)

Exhibits. See the Exhibit Index.




50





SIGNATURES

 

Pursuant to the requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned, thereunto duly authorized.

 

 

Aspen Group, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

Date: July 29, 2014

By:

/s/ Michael Mathews

 

 

 

Michael Mathews

 

 

 

Chief Executive Officer

 

 

 

(Principal Executive Officer)

 

 

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this report has been signed below by the following persons on behalf of the registrant and in the capacities and on the dates indicated.


Signature

 

Title

 

Date

 

 

 

 

 

/s/ Michael Mathews

 

Principal Executive Officer and Director

 

July 29, 2014

Michael Mathews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

/s/ Janet Gill

 

Chief Financial Officer

 

July 29, 2014

Janet Gill

 

(Principal Financial Officer) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

/s/ Dr. Michael D’Anton

 

Director

 

July 29, 2014

Dr. Michael D’Anton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

/s/ C. James Jensen

 

Director

 

July 29, 2014

C. James Jensen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director

 

 

Andrew Kaplan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

/s/ David E. Pasi

 

Director

 

July 29, 2014

David E. Pasi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director

 

 

Sanford Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

/s/ Dr. John Scheibelhoffer

 

Director

 

July 29, 2014

Dr. John Scheibelhoffer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

/s/ Paul Schneier

 

Director

 

July 29, 2014

Paul Schneier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

/s/ Rick Solomon

 

Director

 

July 29, 2014

Rick Solomon

 

 

 

 

 


 



51




Aspen Group, Inc. and Subsidiaries

Index to Consolidated Financial Statements

 

 

 

Page

Financial Statements

 

 

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

 

F-2

Consolidated Balance Sheets as of April 30, 2014 and 2013

 

F-3

Consolidated Statements of Operations for the year ended April 30, 2014, the four months ended April 30, 2013 and 2012 (unaudited) and for the year ended December 31, 2012

 

F-5

Consolidated Statements of Changes in Stockholders' Equity (Deficiency) for the year ended April 30, 2014, the four months ended April 30, 2013, and for the year ended December 31, 2012

 

F-6

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the year ended April 30, 2014, the four months ended April 30, 2013 and 2012 (unaudited) and for the year ended December 31, 2012

 

F-7

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

 

F-9

 





F-1






[aspu_10k001.jpg]




Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm



To the Board of Directors and Stockholders of:

Aspen Group, Inc.


We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Aspen Group, Inc. and Subsidiaries as of April 30, 2014 and 2013, and the related consolidated statements of operations, changes in stockholders’ equity (deficiency) and cash flows for the year ended April 30, 2014, the four months ended April 30, 2013 and the year ended December 31, 2012. These consolidated financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these consolidated financial statements based on our audits.


We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audits to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the consolidated financial statements are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the consolidated financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall consolidated financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.


In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position of Aspen Group, Inc. and Subsidiaries as of April 30, 2014 and 2013, and the consolidated results of its operations and its cash flows for the year ended April 30, 2014, the four months ended April 30, 2013 and for the year ended December 31, 2012 in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.



/s/ Salberg & Company, P.A.


SALBERG & COMPANY, P.A.

Boca Raton, Florida

July 29, 2014






2295 NW Corporate Blvd., Suite 240 • Boca Raton, FL 33431-7328

Phone: (561) 995-8270• Toll Free: (866) CPA-8500• Fax: (561) 995-1920

www.salbergco.com • info@salbergco.com

Member National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts • Registered with the PCAOB

Member CPAConnect with Affiliated Offices Worldwide • Member AICPA Center for Audit Quality





F-2



ASPEN GROUP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS



 

 

April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

Assets

  

                         

  

  

                         

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current assets:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

247,380

 

 

$

724,982

 

Restricted cash

 

 

868,298

 

 

 

265,173

 

Accounts receivable, net of allowance of $221,537 and $72,535 respectively

 

 

649,890

 

 

 

364,788

 

Prepaid expenses

 

 

45,884

 

 

 

165,426

 

Net assets from discontinued operations (Note 1)

 

 

5,250

 

 

 

113,822

 

Total current assets

 

 

1,816,702

 

 

 

1,634,191

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Property and equipment:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call center equipment

 

 

122,653

 

 

 

121,313

 

Computer and office equipment

 

 

66,118

 

 

 

61,036

 

Furniture and fixtures

 

 

36,446

 

 

 

32,914

 

Library (online)

 

 

100,000

 

 

 

100,000

 

Software

 

 

1,894,215

 

 

 

1,518,142

 

 

 

 

2,219,432

 

 

 

1,833,405

 

Less accumulated depreciation and amortization

 

 

(938,703

)

 

 

(569,665

)

Total property and equipment, net

 

 

1,280,729

 

 

 

1,263,740

 

Courseware, net

 

 

108,882

 

 

 

208,095

 

Accounts receivable, secured - related party, net of allowance of $625,963 and $502,315 respectively

 

 

146,831

 

 

 

270,478

 

Debt issuance costs, net

 

 

205,515

 

 

 

 

Other assets

 

 

25,181

 

 

 

25,181

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total assets

 

$

3,583,840

 

 

$

3,401,685

 






The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.


F-3



ASPEN GROUP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS (CONTINUED)



 

 

April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

Liabilities and Stockholders’ Equity (Deficiency)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current liabilities:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accounts payable

 

$

454,783

 

 

$

313,405

 

Accrued expenses

 

 

143,975

 

 

 

128,569

 

Deferred revenue

 

 

653,518

 

 

 

904,590

 

Refunds Due Students

 

 

288,121

 

 

 

253,883

 

Loan payable to stockholder

 

 

491

 

 

 

491

 

Deferred rent, current portion

 

 

13,699

 

 

 

10,418

 

Convertible notes payable, current portion

 

 

175,000

 

 

 

200,000

 

Debenture payable, net of discounts of $452,771

 

 

1,787,229

 

 

 

 

Net liabilities from discontinued operations (Note 1)

 

 

 

 

 

124,504

 

Total current liabilities

 

 

3,516,816

 

 

 

1,935,860

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Line of credit

 

 

244,175

 

 

 

250,000

 

Loan payable officer – related party

 

 

1,000,000

 

 

 

 

Convertible notes payable – related party

 

 

600,000

 

 

 

600,000

 

Deferred rent

 

 

7,751

 

 

 

21,450

 

Total liabilities

 

 

5,368,742

 

 

 

2,807,310

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commitments and contingencies - See Note 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stockholders’ equity (deficiency):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common stock, $0.001 par value; 120,000,000 shares authorized,
73,414,478 issued and 73,214,478 outstanding at April 30,2014
58,573,222 issued and 58,373,222 outstanding at April 30, 2013

 

 

73,414

 

 

 

58,573

 

Additional paid-in capital

 

 

16,302,118

 

 

 

13,345,888

 

Treasury stock (200,000 shares)

 

 

(70,000

)

 

 

(70,000

)

Accumulated deficit

 

 

(18,090,434

)

 

 

(12,740,086

)

Total stockholders’ equity (deficiency)

 

 

(1,784,902

)

 

 

594,375

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity (deficiency)

 

$

3,583,840

 

 

$

3,401,685

 







The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.


F-4



ASPEN GROUP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS



 

 

For the year

 

 

For the year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ended

 

 

ended

 

 

For the

 

 

 

April 30,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

Four Months Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2012

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Unaudited)

 

Revenues

 

$

3,981,722

 

 

$

2,684,931

 

 

$

1,229,096

 

 

$

745,656

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenues (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below)

 

 

1,859,764

 

 

 

2,068,812

 

 

 

749,930

 

 

 

865,408

 

General and administrative

 

 

6,300,229

 

 

 

5,508,507

 

 

 

1,670,812

 

 

 

2,123,685

 

Receivable collateral valuation reserve

 

 

123,647

 

 

 

502,315

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

 

474,752

 

 

 

397,923

 

 

 

159,269

 

 

 

121,812

 

Total costs and expenses

 

 

8,758,392

 

 

 

8,477,557

 

 

 

2,580,011

 

 

 

3,110,905

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating loss from continuing operations

 

 

(4,776,670

)

 

 

(5,792,626

)

 

 

(1,350,915

)

 

 

(2,365,249

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other income (expense):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income

 

 

1,035

 

 

 

4,592

 

 

 

330

 

 

 

672

 

Interest expense

 

 

(659,997

)

 

 

(364,889

)

 

 

(6,737

)

 

 

(2,934

)

Gain on disposal of property and equipment

 

 

 

 

 

5,879

 

 

 

 

 

 

5,879

 

Other Income

 

 

621

 

 

 

 

 

 

66,267

 

 

 

 

Total other expense

 

 

(658,341

)

 

 

(354,418

)

 

 

59,860

 

 

 

3,617

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss from continuing operations before income taxes

 

 

(5,435,011

)

 

 

(6,147,044

)

 

 

(1,291,055

)

 

 

(2,361,632

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income tax expense (benefit)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss from continuing operations

 

 

(5,435,011

)

 

 

(6,147,044

)

 

 

(1,291,055

)

 

 

(2,361,632

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discontinued operations (Note 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of income taxes

 

 

84,663

 

 

 

136,310

 

 

 

(111,927

)

 

 

148,513

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net loss

 

 

(5,350,348

)

 

 

(6,010,734

)

 

 

(1,402,982

)

 

 

(2,213,119

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cumulative preferred stock dividends

 

 

 

 

 

(37,379

)

 

 

 

 

 

(37,379

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net loss allocable to common stockholders

 

$

(5,350,348

)

 

$

(6,048,113

)

 

$

(1,402,982

)

 

$

(2,250,498

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss per share from continuing operations - basic and diluted

 

$

(0.09

)

 

$

(0.17

)

 

$

(0.02

)

 

$

(0.11

)

Income per share from discontinued operations - basic and diluted

 

$

0.00

 

 

$

0.00

 

 

$

(0.00

)

 

$

0.01

 

Net loss per share allocable to common stockholders – basic and diluted

 

$

(0.09

)

 

$

(0.17

)

 

$

(0.03

)

 

$

(0.11

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted average number of common shares outstanding:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic and diluted

 

 

62,031,861

 

 

 

35,316,681

 

 

 

56,089,884

 

 

 

21,135,361

 





The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.


F-5



ASPEN GROUP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CHANGES IN STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY (DEFICIENCY)

For the Year Ended April 30, 2014, the Four Months Ended April 30, 2013 and the Year Ended December 31, 2012



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

 

Preferred Stock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stockholders'

 

 

 

Series B

 

 

Series C

 

 

Common Stock

 

 

Paid-In

 

 

Treasury

 

 

Accumulated

 

 

Equity

 

 

 

Shares

 

 

Amount

 

 

Shares

 

 

Amount

 

 

Shares

 

 

Amount

 

 

Capital

 

 

Stock

 

 

Deficit

 

 

(Deficiency)

 

Balance at December 31, 2011

 

 

368,411

 

 

$

368

 

 

 

11,307,450

 

 

$

11,307

 

 

 

11,837,930

 

 

$

11,838

 

 

$

3,275,296

 

 

$

 

 

$

(5,326,370

)

 

$

(2,027,561

)

Conversion of all preferred shares into common shares

 

 

(368,411

)

 

 

(368

)

 

 

(11,307,450

)

 

 

(11,307

)

 

 

13,677,274

 

 

 

13,677

 

 

 

3,467,983

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,469,985

 

Recapitalization

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9,760,000

 

 

 

9,760

 

 

 

(30,629

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(20,869

)

Conversion of convertible notes into common shares

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5,293,152

 

 

 

5,293

 

 

 

1,770,532

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,775,825

 

Issuance of common shares and warrants for cash, net of offering costs of $446,764

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9,920,000

 

 

 

9,920

 

 

 

3,015,316

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,025,236

 

Issuance of common shares and warrants due to price protection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4,516,917

 

 

 

4,517

 

 

 

(4,517

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issuance of common shares and warrants to settle accrued interest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

202,446

 

 

 

203

 

 

 

70,451

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

70,654

 

Treasury shares acquired for cash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(264,000

)

 

 

(264

)

 

 

(131,736

)

 

 

(70,000

)

 

 

 

 

 

(202,000

)

Issuance of common shares for services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

200,000

 

 

 

200

 

 

 

69,800

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

70,000

 

Issuance of common shares and warrants for services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100,000

 

 

 

100

 

 

 

42,900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

43,000

 

Issuance of stock options to officers to settle accrued payroll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

238,562

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

238,562

 

Issuance of stock options to officers to settle note payable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22,000

 

Stock-based compensation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

347,657

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

347,657

 

Net loss, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(6,010,734

)

 

 

(6,010,734

)

Balance at December 31, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

55,243,719

 

 

 

55,244

 

 

 

12,153,615

 

 

 

(70,000

)

 

 

(11,337,104

)

 

 

801,755

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issuance of common shares and warrants for cash, net of offering costs of $123,788

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,329,503

 

 

 

3,329

 

 

 

1,038,211

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,041,540

 

Stock-based compensation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

154,062

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

154,062

 

Net loss, Four Months Ended April 30, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1,402,982

)

 

 

(1,402,982

)

Balance at April 30, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

58,573,222

 

 

 

58,573

 

 

 

13,345,888

 

 

 

(70,000

)

 

 

(12,740,086

)

 

 

594,375

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issuance of common shares for investor relation services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

617,143

 

 

 

617

 

 

 

215,383

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

216,000

 

Offering cost for professional services from private placement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(48,240

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(48,240

)

Stock-based compensation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

608,429

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

608,429

 

Warrants issued in financing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

483,881

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

483,881

 

Warrants exercised

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7,006,064

 

 

 

7,006

 

 

 

797,043

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

804,049

 

Warrant Modification

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

156,952

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

156,952

 

Shares issued for price protection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,270,678

 

 

 

3,271

 

 

 

(3,271

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issuance of common shares for cash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,947,371

 

 

 

3,947

 

 

 

746,053

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

750,000

 

Net loss, Year Ended April 30, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5,350,348

)

 

 

(5,350,348

)

Balance at April 30, 2014

 

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

73,414,478

 

 

$

73,414

 

 

$

16,302,118

 

 

$

(70,000

)

 

$

(18,090,434

)

 

$

(1,784,902

)





The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.


F-6



ASPEN GROUP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS



 

 

For the Year

 

 

For the Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ended

 

 

Ended

 

 

For the

 

 

 

April 30,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

Four Months Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2012

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Unaudited)

 

Cash flows from operating activities:

  

                         

  

  

                         

  

  

                         

  

  

                         

  

Net loss

 

$

(5,350,348

)

 

$

(6,010,734

)

 

$

(1,402,982

)

 

$

(2,213,119

)

Less income (loss) from discontinued operations

 

 

84,663

 

 

 

136,310

 

 

 

(111,927

)

 

 

148,513

 

Loss from continuing operations

 

 

(5,435,011

)

 

 

(6,147,044

)

 

 

(1,291,055

)

 

 

(2,361,632

)

Adjustments to reconcile net loss to net cash used in operating activities:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad debt expense

 

 

154,732

 

 

 

133,907

 

 

 

37,000

 

 

 

32,955

 

Receivable collateral valuation reserve

 

 

123,647

 

 

 

502,315

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amortization of debt issuance costs

 

 

131,657

 

 

 

266,473

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amortization of debt discount

 

 

294,640

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gain on disposal of property and equipment

 

 

 

 

 

(5,879

)

 

 

 

 

 

(5,879

)

Depreciation and amortization

 

 

474,752

 

 

 

397,923

 

 

 

159,269

 

 

 

121,812

 

Loss on settlement of accrued interest

 

 

 

 

 

3,339

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,339

 

Issuance of convertible notes in exchange for services rendered

 

 

 

 

 

38,175

 

 

 

 

 

 

38,175

 

Stock-based compensation

 

 

608,429

 

 

 

347,657

 

 

 

154,062

 

 

 

81,605

 

Warrant modification expense

 

 

156,952

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common shares and warrants issued for services rendered

 

 

285,084

 

 

 

113,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changes in operating assets and liabilities, net of effects of acquisition:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accounts receivable

 

 

(439,834

)

 

 

(327,524

)

 

 

(288,117

)

 

 

(30,001

)

Prepaid expenses

 

 

50,456

 

 

 

(89,265

)

 

 

27,107

 

 

 

(44,683

)

Other current assets

 

 

 

 

 

(68,790

)

 

 

69,000

 

 

 

210

 

Other assets

 

 

 

 

 

(18,622

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accounts payable

 

 

141,378

 

 

 

(186,701

)

 

 

97,609

 

 

 

727,214

 

Accrued expenses

 

 

15,405

 

 

 

252,771

 

 

 

52,658

 

 

 

191,532

 

Deferred rent

 

 

(10,418

)

 

 

(4,291

)

 

 

10,593

 

 

 

(1,073

)

Title IV funds in transit

 

 

34,238

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deferred revenue

 

 

(251,071

)

 

 

200,846

 

 

 

121,933

 

 

 

114,162

 

Other current liabilities

 

 

 

 

 

69,000

 

 

 

(69,000

)

 

 

 

Net cash used in operating activities

 

 

(3,664,964

)

 

 

(4,522,710

)

 

 

(918,941

)

 

 

(1,132,264

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash flows from investing activities:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash acquired as part of merger

 

 

 

 

 

337

 

 

 

 

 

 

(378

)

Purchases of property and equipment

 

 

(386,027

)

 

 

(479,846

)

 

 

(166,214

)

 

 

(200,933

)

Purchases of courseware

 

 

(6,500

)

 

 

(25,300

)

 

 

 

 

 

(8,200

)

Increase in restricted cash

 

 

(603,125

)

 

 

(264,992

)

 

 

(181

)

 

 

 

Proceeds received from officer loan repayments

 

 

 

 

 

150,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

150,000

 

Net cash used in investing activities

 

 

(995,652

)

 

 

(619,801

)

 

 

(166,395

)

 

 

(59,511

)






The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.


F-7



ASPEN GROUP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS (CONTINUED)



 

 

For the Year

 

 

For the Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ended

 

 

Ended

 

 

For the

 

 

 

April 30,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

Four Months Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2012

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Unaudited)

 

Cash flows from financing activities:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proceeds from (repayments on) line of credit, net

 

 

 

 

 

16,785

 

 

 

 

 

 

(8,215

)

Proceeds from issuance of common shares and warrants, net

 

 

750,000

 

 

 

3,025,236

 

 

 

1,041,540

 

 

 

 

Principal payments on notes payable

 

 

(25,000

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proceeds received from issuance of convertible notes and warrants

 

 

1,639,298

 

 

 

1,706,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,059,000

 

Proceeds from related party for convertible notes

 

 

 

 

 

600,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proceeds from related party for note

 

 

1,000,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disbursements for debt issuance costs

 

 

(48,240

)

 

 

(266,473

)

 

 

 

 

 

(112,020

)

Proceeds from warrant exercise

 

 

804,049

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Payments for line of credit

 

 

(5,824

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proceeds from note payable

 

 

 

 

 

22,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disbursements to purchase treasury shares

 

 

 

 

 

(202,000

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash provided by financing activities

 

 

4,114,283

 

 

 

4,901,548

 

 

 

1,041,540

 

 

 

938,765

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash flows from discontinued operations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash flows from operating activities

 

 

68,731

 

 

 

51,599

 

 

 

191,540

 

 

 

78,398

 

Net cash provided by discontinued operations

 

 

68,731

 

 

 

51,599

 

 

 

191,540

 

 

 

78,398

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents

 

 

(477,602

)

 

 

(189,364

)

 

 

147,744

 

 

 

(174,612

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period

 

 

724,982

 

 

 

766,602

 

 

 

577,238

 

 

 

766,602

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents at end of period

 

$

247,380

 

 

$

577,238

 

 

$

724,982

 

 

$

591,990

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplemental disclosure of cash flow information:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash paid for interest

 

$

 

 

$

273,781

 

 

$

1,494

 

 

$

2,681

 

Cash paid for income taxes

 

$

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplemental disclosure of non-cash investing and financing activities:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversion of all preferred shares into common shares

 

$

 

 

$

3,469,985

 

 

$

 

 

$

3,469,985

 

Conversion of convertible notes payable into common shares

 

$

 

 

$

1,775,825

 

 

$

 

 

$

20,000

 

Issuance of stock options to officers to settle accrued payroll

 

$

 

 

$

238,562

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

Conversion of loans payable to convertible notes payable

 

$

 

 

$

200,000

 

 

$

 

 

$

200,000

 

Issuance of common shares and warrants to settle accrued interest

 

$

 

 

$

70,654

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

Issuance of stock options to officers to settle note payable

 

$

 

 

$

22,000

 

 

$

 

 

$

22,000

 

Liabilities assumed in recapitalization

 

$

 

 

$

21,206

 

 

$

 

 

$

21,206

 

Settlement of notes payable by disposal of property and equipment

 

$

 

 

$

15,151

 

 

$

 

 

$

15,151

 

Issuance of convertible notes payable to pay accounts payable

 

$

 

 

$

11,650

 

 

$

 

 

$

11,650

 

Issuance of common shares for prepaid services

 

$

216,000

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

Warrant value recorded as debt issue cost

 

$

94,316

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

Warrant value recorded as debt discount

 

$

389,565

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

 

$

 




The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.


F-8



ASPEN GROUP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

April 30, 2014 and 2013



Note 1. Nature of Operations and Liquidity


Overview 

 

Aspen Group, Inc. (together with its subsidiaries, the “Company” or “Aspen”) was founded in Colorado in 1987 as the International School of Information Management. On September 30, 2004, it was acquired by Higher Education Management Group, Inc. (“HEMG”) and changed its name to Aspen University Inc. On March 13, 2012, the Company was recapitalized in a reverse merger (See Note 12). All references to the Company or Aspen before March 13, 2012 are to Aspen University, Inc. (“Aspen University”).


On April 5, 2013, the Company gave 120-day notice to CLS 123, LLC of its intent to terminate the agreement between the Company and CLS 123, LLC dated November 9, 2011. Moreover, at the end of the 120-day period, the Company shall no longer be offering the “Certificate in Information Technology with a specialization in Smart Home Integration” program. Accordingly, the activities related to CLS (or the “Smart Home Integration Certificate” program) are treated as discontinued operations. As this component of the business was not sold, there was no gain or loss on the disposition of this component (see below “Discontinued Operations”).


On April 25, 2013, our Board of Directors approved a change in our fiscal year-end from December 31 to April 30, with the change to the calendar year reporting cycle beginning May 1, 2013. Consequently, we filed a Transition Report on Form 10-KT for the four-month transition period ended April 30, 2013. References in this report to fiscal 2012 indicate the calendar year ended December 31, 2012. Financial information in these notes with respect to the four months ended April 30, 2012 is unaudited.


Aspen University’s mission is to offer any motivated college-worthy student the opportunity to receive a high quality, responsibly priced distance-learning education for the purpose of achieving sustainable economic and social benefits for themselves and their families. One of the key differences between Aspen and other publicly-traded, exclusively online, for-profit universities is that approximately 87% of our full-time degree-seeking students (as of April 30, 2014) were enrolled in graduate degree programs (Master or Doctorate degree program). Since 1993, we have been nationally accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (“DETC”), a national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (the “DOE”).


Discontinued Operations


As of March 31, 2013, the Company decided to discontinue business activities related to its “Certificate in Information Technology with a specialization in Smart Home Integration” program so that it may focus on growing its full-time, degree-seeking student programs, which have higher gross margins. On April 5, 2013, the Company gave 120-day notice to CLS 123, LLC of its intent to terminate the agreement between the Company and CLS 123, LLC dated November 9, 2011. Thus, as of August 3, 2013, the Company is no longer offering the “Certificate in Information Technology with a specialization in Smart Home Integration” program. The termination of the “Smart Home Integration Certificate” program qualifies as a discontinued operation and accordingly the Company has excluded results for this component from its continuing operations in the consolidated statements of operations for all periods presented. The following table shows the results of the “Smart Home Integration Certificate” program component included in the income (loss) from discontinued operations:


 

 

For the year

 

 

For the year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ended

 

 

ended

 

 

For the

 

 

 

April 30,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

Four Months Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2012

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Unaudited)

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Revenues

 

$

549,125

 

 

$

2,332,283

 

 

$

140,732

 

 

$

1,077,875

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costs and expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructional costs and services

 

 

494,213

 

 

 

2,026,928

 

 

 

126,659

 

 

 

929,362

 

General and administrative

 

 

(29,751

)

 

 

169,045

 

 

 

126,000

 

 

 

 

Total costs and expenses

 

 

464,462

 

 

 

2,195,973

 

 

 

252,659

 

 

 

929,362

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of income taxes

 

$

84,663

 

 

$

136,310

 

 

$

(111,927

)

 

$

148,513

 

 



F-9



ASPEN GROUP, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

April 30, 2014 and 2013



The major classes of assets and liabilities of discontinued operations on the balance sheet are as follows:


 

 

April 30,

 

 

April 30,

 

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

Assets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

 

 

$

 

Accounts receivable, net of allowance of $481,531 and $295,045, respectively

 

 

5,250