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EX-31.1 - CERTIFICATION PURSUANT TO RULE 13A-14(A)/15D-14(A) CERTIFICATIONS SECTION 302 OF - National American University Holdings, Inc.nauh_ex311.htm
EX-32.2 - CERTIFICATE PURSUANT TO SECTION 18 U.S.C. PURSUANT TO SECTION 906 OF THE SARBANE - National American University Holdings, Inc.nauh_ex322.htm
EX-32.1 - CERTIFICATE PURSUANT TO SECTION 18 U.S.C. PURSUANT TO SECTION 906 OF THE SARBANE - National American University Holdings, Inc.nauh_ex321.htm
EX-31.2 - CERTIFICATION PURSUANT TO RULE 13A-14(A)/15D-14(A) CERTIFICATIONS SECTION 302 OF - National American University Holdings, Inc.nauh_ex312.htm
EX-23.1 - CONSENTS OF EXPERTS AND COUNSEL - National American University Holdings, Inc.nauh_ex231.htm
EX-21.1 - SUBSIDIARIES OF THE REGISTRANT - National American University Holdings, Inc.nauh_ex211.htm
 

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

Form 10-K
 
 ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended May 31, 2017
  TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _____ to _____        
 
Commission File No. 001-34751

National American University Holdings, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
 
Delaware
83-0479936
(State or other jurisdiction
of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
 
 
5301 Mt. Rushmore Road
57701
Rapid City, SD
(Zip Code)
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
 
(605) 721-5200
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 
Common Stock, $.0001 par Value
The NASDAQ Stock Market
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
 
Securities registered pursuant to section 12(g) of the Act:
None
(Title of class)
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§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). 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 registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
 
Large accelerated filer  ☐
Accelerated filer  ☐
Non-accelerated filer ☐ (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
Smaller reporting company ☑
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No
 
As of July 31, 2017, there were 24,227,376 shares of Common Stock, $0.0001 par value per share outstanding.
 
The aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates computed by reference to the price at which the common equity was last sold as of November 30, 2016, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, was approximately $19.7 million.
 
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Certain portions of the Registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement for its 2017 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (which is expected to be filed with the Commission within 120 days after the end of the Registrant’s 2017 fiscal year) are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Report.

 
 
 
NATIONAL AMERICAN UNIVERSITY HOLDINGS, INC AND SUBSIDIARIES
 
FORM 10-K
 
INDEX
 
PART I
 
Page
Item 1.
Business
 
4
Item 1A.
Risk Factors
 
42
Item 1B.
Unresolved Staff Comments
 
64
Item 2.
Properties
 
65
Item 3.
Legal Proceedings
 
65
Item 4.
Mine Safety Disclosures
 
65
PART II
 
 
Item 5.
Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
 
65
Item 6.
Selected Financial Data
 
67
Item 7.
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
 
69
Item 7a.
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk
 
81
Item 8.
Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
 
81
Item 9.
Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
 
111
Item 9A
Controls and Procedures
 
111
Item 9B.
Other information
 
111
PART III
 
 
Item 10.
Directors, Executive Officers, and Corporate Governance
 
112
Item 11.
Executive Compensation
 
112
Item 12.
Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
 
112
Item 13.
Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
 
113
Item 14.
Principal Accounting Fees and Services
 
113
 
 
 
 
PART IV
 
 
Item 15. 
Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
 
113
 
 

 
PART I
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
 
This document and the documents incorporated by reference herein contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act. We may, in some cases, use words such as “project,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “plan,” “expect,” “estimate,” “intend,” “should,” “would,” “could,” “potentially,” “will” or “may,” or other words that convey uncertainty of future events, future financial performance, expectations, regulation or outcomes to identify these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements regarding proposed new programs, statements concerning projections, predictions, expectations, estimates or forecasts as to our business, financial and operational results and future economic performance, and statements of management’s goals and objectives and other similar expressions concerning matters that are not historical facts.
 
 
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Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results and will not necessarily be accurate indications that such performance or results will be achieved. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time those statements are made or management’s good faith belief as of that time with respect to future events and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause such differences include:
 
 
our ability to comply with the extensive and changing regulatory framework applicable to our industry, including Title IV, state laws and regulatory requirements and accrediting agency requirements;
 
 
the ability of our students to obtain Title IV funds, state financial aid, and private financing;
 
 
the pace of growth of our enrollment;
 
 
our conversion of prospective students to enrolled students and our retention of active students;
 
 
our ability to update and expand the content of existing programs and the development of new programs in a cost-effective manner or on a timely basis;
 
 
the competitive environment in which we operate;
 
 
our cash needs and expectations regarding cash flow from operations;
 
 
our ability to manage and grow our business and execution of our business and growth strategies;
 
 
our ability to maintain and expand existing commercial relationships with various corporations and U.S. Armed Forces and develop new commercial relationships;
 
 
our ability to adjust to the changing economic conditions;
 
 
our ability to use advances in technology that could enhance the online experience for our students;
 
 
our ability to sell the condominium units we own, and the general condition of the real estate market, in Rapid City, South Dakota;
 
 
our estimated future financial results or performance;
 
 
our actual financial performance generally; and
 
 
 
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other factors discussed in this annual report under the captions “Risk Factors,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” “Business,” and “Regulatory Matters.”
 
Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date the statements are made. You should not put undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements after the date of this annual report to reflect actual results, changes in assumptions or changes in other factors affecting forward-looking information, except to the extent required by applicable laws. If we do update one or more forward-looking statements, no inference should be drawn that we will make additional updates with respect to those or other forward-looking statements.
 
Unless the context otherwise requires, the terms “we”, “us”, “our” and the “Company” used throughout this document refer to National American University Holdings, Inc.; its wholly owned subsidiary, Dlorah, Inc.; and National American University, sometimes referred to as “NAU” or the “university”, which is owned and operated by Dlorah, Inc.
 
Item 1. Business. Overview
 
National American University Holdings, Inc. is a provider of professional and technical postsecondary education primarily designed for working adults and other non-traditional students. We own and operate National American University, a regionally accredited, proprietary, multi-campus institution of higher learning founded in 1941. In 1998, the university began offering online degree programs. Through campus-based, blended, and fully online instruction, the university offers diploma, associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business-related disciplines, such as accounting, management, business administration, and information technology; in healthcare-related disciplines, such as occupational therapy, medical assisting, nursing, surgical technology, and healthcare information and management; in legal-related disciplines, such as paralegal, criminal justice, and professional legal studies; and in higher education. The mission is to prepare students of diverse interests, cultures, and abilities for careers in our core fields in a caring and supportive environment.
 
Since 2013, increasing numbers of students have been transitioning from ground-based programs to fully online or blended offerings. Multiple locations are evolving to become online support centers as opposed to locations for ground-based programs. These locations use small physical facilities in strategic geographic areas, allowing students to work with staff online or in person for assistance with their educational choices and related services while completing the majority of their coursework online. Working adults and other non-traditional students remain attracted to the flexibility of online programs and the personal attention provided at our physical facilities. As a result, we are realigning our ground-based resources and distance-learning infrastructure to support the growing percentage of students in blended and online offerings, as well as to support our efforts in serving military students and students from closed institutions through formal teach-out and transfer arrangements. As of May 31, 2017, NAU operated 32 locations across the states of Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. Distance learning operations and central administration offices operate from Rapid City, South Dakota. During the third quarter of fiscal year 2017, we consolidated three campus-based operations in Texas and Minnesota, realigning them to expand administrative and enrollment services support in key locations of our university system. Simultaneously, we opened locations to serve military students and community college graduates.
 
In addition to the university operations, NAUH operates a real estate business known as Fairway Hills Developments, or Fairway Hills. The real estate business rents apartment units and develops and sells condominium units in the Fairway Hills Planned Residential Development area of Rapid City, South Dakota. Fairway Hills recently completed construction on a 24-unit luxury apartment complex.
 
The university’s enrollment declined from 9,519 students as of May 31, 2015 to 8,185 students as of May 31, 2016, and then decreased to 6,707 students as of May 31, 2017, representing a decrease of approximately 14.0% from 2015 to 2016 and a decrease of 18.1% from 2016 to 2017. Across the system, eight undergraduate locations experienced year-over-year growth; our graduate school achieved 13.0% growth and our doctoral school achieved 12.6% growth in the Spring 2017 Quarter. We believe the decline in student enrollment and revenue is the result of the regulatory scrutiny of the industry and the current economic environment. Over the past year, the rate of decline has slowed significantly and is comparable or better to institutions across the higher education landscape. Similar to our peers, many working adults have chosen not to attend school.
 
 
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Notwithstanding the unfavorable economic environment, we believe the opportunity exists to increase profit by controlling costs and further leveraging our online offerings and physical locations. During the same periods, revenue declined from $117.9 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2015, to $96.1 million for fiscal year ended May 31, 2016, and then decreased to $86.6 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2017, representing annual decreases of 18.5% and 9.9%, respectively. Income before income taxes for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2015 was $11.2 million, compared to a loss of $8.2 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2016, and a loss of $7.8 million for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2017.
 
Revenue for the NAU segment declined from $116.3 million in fiscal year 2015 to $95.0 million in fiscal year 2016 and decreased to $85.4 million in fiscal year 2017, representing a decrease of 18.3% between 2015 and 2016 and a decrease of 10.1% from 2016 to 2017. Income before income taxes for the NAU segment was $9.5 million in fiscal year 2015, decreasing to a loss of $8.2 million in fiscal year 2016 and then decreasing to a loss of $7.8 million in fiscal year 2017. Total assets for the NAU segment decreased from $78.1 million in fiscal year 2015 to $60.6 million in fiscal year 2016, and decreased to $44.4 million in fiscal year 2017.
 
Revenue for the Fairway Hills segment, decreased from $1.6 million in fiscal year 2015 to $1.1 million in fiscal year 2016 and increased to $1.2 million in fiscal year 2017, representing a decrease of 31.1% between 2015 and 2016, and an increase of 4.5% from 2016 to 2017. Income before taxes for this segment went from $1.7 million in fiscal year 2015 to a loss of $0.02 million in fiscal year 2016 and then increased to a $0.02 million of income in fiscal year 2017. Total assets for Fairway Hills decreased from $8.5 million in fiscal year 2015 to $7.9 million in fiscal year 2016 and then increased to $13.2 million in fiscal year 2017.
 
University History
 
Founded in 1941, NAU, then operating under the name National School of Business, offered specialized business training designed for women in western South Dakota wanting to work outside the home. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the university progressed from a two-year business school to a four-year college of business and embarked on a recruitment of qualified graduates of one- and two-year programs from accredited business schools in the eastern United States. Such programs allowed students to continue their education and receive appropriate transfer credits for their previous academic achievements. In 1974, the university, then known as National College, added its first branch campus in Sioux Falls, SD, followed later that year by branch campuses in Denver and Colorado Springs, CO, and Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. The university offered conveniently scheduled courses that would lead to a degree appealing to working adults and other non-traditional students. Today, the university continues its mission to provide quality professional and technical education for predominantly underserved working adult students and to ensure that students transferring credits can do so with minimal disruption to degree progression and timeline to completion.
 
Over the past three years, NAU has particularly focused its academic initiatives on market needs and on educational research that addresses the social, emotional, financial, and academic needs and issues of underserved working adults. Through these initiatives, we have purposefully redesigned the student and student-faculty experience, have expanded research and scholarship, and have revised programs to maximize transfer credit and credit for prior learning options. We have created new math and writing course pathways, launched co-requisite remedial offerings, built incentives for attending full-time, and integrated career services and career development across the curricula. We have addressed high-failure gateway courses and have implemented intrusive advising and support services based on student success analytics to improve learning, make gains in persistence and completion, and reduce time to degree. Simultaneously, we are revitalizing our performance-based, competency-driven curricula as we rework the instructional design of our courses through D2L/BrightSpace and fully embed mobile-first technologies. In this same time period, NAU has engaged with accreditors, state postsecondary agencies, and state boards of nursing to serve students displaced by closed schools, providing those students with pathways to complete their desired educational programs.
 
The university continues to manage changing needs for educational sites; to add campus-based, blended, and online undergraduate and graduate programs; and to develop new technologies to support student learning, persistence, and degree progression and completion. New offerings launched or in development include cybersecurity, forensics, surgical technology, vocational nursing, health information management, aviation, strategic intelligence, counterterrorism, and strategic security and protection. For many years, the university has sustained affiliations with vocational institutions in Canada, providing consulting in the development and delivery of online programs. In 2016, NAU launched Canada-Online, a subset of online health, paralegal, and business-related associate and baccalaureate degree programs specifically designed to allow transfer and degree-completion options for Canadian students in affiliated institutions graduating with diplomas. In June 2017, the university launched the College of Military Studies, which provides comprehensive military student support services and undergraduate and graduate programs customized for veterans, active military, and their families.
 
Corporate Information
 
National American University Holdings, Inc., formerly known as Camden Learning Corporation, was organized under the laws of the State of Delaware on April 10, 2007, as a blank check company to acquire one or more domestic or international assets of an operating business in the education industry. On November 23, 2009, as a result of the merger transaction with Dlorah, Inc., a South Dakota corporation, which owns and operates NAU, Dlorah became our wholly owned subsidiary. For accounting purposes, Dlorah was the acquirer and accounted for the transaction as a recapitalization. Accordingly, the consolidated financial statements included in this annual report on Form 10-K reflect the results of Dlorah. We conduct substantially all of our business and generate substantially all of our revenue through Dlorah. Our primary business is the operation of National American University, which generated 98.7% of our revenue in fiscal year 2017. We also have Fairway Hills, a multi-family residential real estate operation in Rapid City, South Dakota, which generated 1.3% of our revenue in fiscal year 2017. The NAU website is www.national.edu. The information on the website is not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We upload the Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act on the website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission.
 
 
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Our Core Values
 
Since inception, the following core values have guided the university, which we believe have contributed to our success in obtaining and retaining students and faculty:
 
 
offer high quality instructional programs and services;
 
 
provide a caring and supportive learning environment; and
 
 
offer technical and professional career programs.
 
These core values have remained our foundation as we expanded from a single education site offering specialized business training to a multi-state, diversified, educational institution with diploma, associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. We promote understanding and support of our mission and core values through participation of students, faculty, staff administrators and the board of governors in the governance and administrative structures of the university. We have adopted and implemented policies and procedures to ensure adherence to our core values and to operate with integrity as we fulfill our mission.
 
Our commitment to these core values is evidenced in the daily interactions among our students, faculty, staff, and administrators:
 
 
the strong academic and learning support structures, services, and resources for students;
 
 
the overall ease of the registration process;
 
 
the transferability of credits;
 
 
the career-focused professional and technical programs;
 
 
the caring and supportive attitude by faculty toward students; and
 
 
the opportunity to specialize learning through program emphasis areas.
 
Approach to Academic Quality
 
   We have identified several academic initiatives to promote a high level of academic quality, including:
 
Student engagement, learning, academic achievement, persistence to credential, and career success. The urgency of now is to assist working adults in getting the credit they deserve at NAU; to teach, assess, mentor, and support until every student acquires the skills, knowledge, and abilities they need; and to create policies, processes, programs, and learning experiences that exceed expectations.
 
Comprehensive overhaul of all NAU course curricula, student educational experience, and learning management system. We are reconceiving the entire student experience online and updating all assignments, assessments, and competency clusters across learning outcomes in ways that allow them to be unbundled into micro-credentials or integrated into new course and program combinations. We design our curricula to address specific career-oriented objectives we believe working adult and other non-traditional students are seeking. We have invested significant human and financial resources in the implementation of this curricula development to support faculty and students in achieving prescribed student learning outcomes. The performance-based curricula are designed and delivered by faculty members who are committed to delivering a high quality, current and relevant education to prepare students for their professions.
 
 
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Qualified faculty. NAU seeks to hire and retain highly qualified faculty members with relevant practical experience and the necessary skills to provide a high-quality education for its students. More than 90% of our faculty members hold graduate degrees. We seek faculty members who can integrate relevant, practical experiences from their professional careers into the courses they teach. We also invest in the professional development of our faculty members by providing training in campus and online teaching techniques, hosting events and discussion forums that foster sharing of best practices and continually assessing teaching effectiveness through administrative reviews and student evaluations.
 
Standardized course design. We employ a standardized curriculum development process to promote consistent, authentic learning experiences in our online courses, and implement this curriculum through blended instructional delivery at the campus locations. We continue to review programs in an effort to ensure they remain consistent, up-to-date and effective in producing the desired student learning outcomes. We also regularly review student survey data to identify opportunities for course modifications and enhancements. NAU plans to implement BrightSpace by D2L in fall 2017. Upgrades include live chat, texting, live tutoring, and other new tools for faculty-student engagement. In addition, the D2L/Brightspace course room prototype for all 450+ undergraduate and graduate courses has been developed and is being tested by NAU staff, faculty, and students. We have defined a curricular model that evaluates the competencies, learning outcomes, and related assignments and assessments across an academic program. By 2019, all programs and courses should have the ability to be unbundled and offered on a pure competency-based and laddered credential model.
 
Effective student services. We establish teams of academic and administrative personnel who act as the primary support for our students, beginning at the application stage and continuing through graduation. In recent years, we have also concentrated on improving the technology used to support student learning, including enhancing our online learning platform and student services. As a result, many of support services, including academic, administrative, library and career services are accessible online, allowing users to access these services at a time and in a manner convenient to them.
 
Continual academic oversight. The provost’s office, in conjunction with other academic offices, conducts academic oversight and assessment functions for all programs, and evaluates the content, delivery method, faculty performance and desired student learning outcomes. We continually assess outcomes data to determine whether students graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. The provost also initiates and manages periodic examinations of the curricula to evaluate and verify academic program quality and workplace applicability. Based on these processes and student feedback, we determine whether to create new programs, modify current programs, or discontinue those that do not meet our standards or market needs.
 
Board of Governors. We maintain a separate board of governors to oversee the academic mission of the university. Among other things, the board of governors is responsible for determining the mission and purposes of the university, approving educational programs and ensuring the well-being of students, faculty and staff. A majority of the board of governors’ members are independent, experienced in education, administration, business, international business, government, law, communications, and occupational therapy. Board membership has remained stable for many years. The oversight and guidance of the board of governors has been critical to the development and the maintenance of academic standards.
 
Industry and Outlook
 
NAU operates in the same market as for-profit and non-profit public and private professional and technical institutions and community colleges. Competition is generally based on location, program offerings, modality, the quality of instruction, placement rates, selectivity of admissions, recruiting, and tuition rates. We compete for enrollments by offering more frequent start dates, more flexible hours, better instructional resources, more hands-on training, shorter program length and greater assistance with job placement. We also compete with other career schools by focusing on offering high demand, career-oriented programs, providing individual attention to students and focusing on flexible degrees for working adults and other non-traditional students. We believe we can compete effectively in our respective local markets because of the diversity of our program offerings, quality of instruction, strength of our brand, reputation and success in placing students with employers.
 
 
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Our competition differs in each market depending on the curriculum offered. Because schools can add new programs in a relatively short period of time, typically within six to twelve months, new competitors within an academic program area can emerge quickly.
 
Certain institutions have competitive advantages over us. Non-profit and public institutions receive substantial government subsidies, government and foundation grants and tax-deductible contributions and have other financial resources generally not available to for-profit schools. In addition, some of our for-profit competitors have a more extended or dense network of schools and campuses, which may enable them to recruit students more efficiently from a wider geographic area. Furthermore, some of our competitors, including both traditional colleges and universities and other for-profit schools, have substantially greater financial resources and name recognition, which may enable them to compete more effectively for potential students. We expect to face continued competition as a result of new entrants to the online education market with similar programmatic offerings.
 
Competitive Strengths
 
    We believe the following strengths enable us to compete effectively in the postsecondary education market:
 
Our physical locations and program and delivery mix allow for greater leverage of assets. Our locations provide students face-to-face, blended and online learning as well as a range of student services. In addition, these locations provide an opportunity for students to take certain courses at our educational sites while taking the majority of their classes online. This approach provides students with a more flexible class experience and allows us an opportunity to further leverage our fixed assets.
 
Our diversified, technical, and professional program mix. Programs target in-demand associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in professional and technical areas, including business, accounting, information technology, legal studies, allied health, and nursing. Program evaluation and development processes allow the university to continually update academic offerings relevant to the field, as well as design new programs to meet current industry needs.
 
Our Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) with nationally recognized leadership. The Ed.D. program includes nationally renowned community college leaders and faculty who have served as presidents and chief officers of community colleges for more than 40 years and who have published numerous books and articles on leadership of community colleges in the last several decades. The doctoral program and its recognized faculty bring great visibility to the university and has produced partnerships with community colleges and enrollments comparable to the largest community college leadership programs in the country.
 
Our multiple accreditations and regulatory approvals. NAU is regionally accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (“HLC”). In addition, many of our programs maintain specialized or professional accreditation and approvals.
 
Our affiliations with other educational institutions. NAU began offering online academic programs in 1998, and has continually developed expertise in curricula and technology related to online education. We have established a number of affiliations with other educational institutions to provide curriculum development services and technology support services. We also believe NAU provides an appealing opportunity for displaced students of closed schools who seek to continue their education through transfer and teach-out options.
 
Our commitment to high demand professional and technical programs. We are committed to offering quality, performance-based educational programs to meet the needs of employers. Our programs are designed to help our students achieve their career objectives in a competitive job market. The entire student experience online is being re-conceived and all assignments, assessments, and competency clusters across learning outcomes are being updated in ways that allow them to be unbundled into micro-credentials or integrated into new course and program combinations. Qualified faculty members, who often have practical experience in their respective fields, teach our programs and offer students “real-world experience” perspectives. We periodically review and assess our programs and faculty to ensure that our programs are current and meet the changing demands of employers.
 
 
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Our focus on individual attention to students. We believe in providing individual attention to our students to ensure an excellent educational experience. We provide student support services, including administrative, financial aid, library, career, and technology support, to help maximize their success. We also provide personal guidance to our students during the admissions process, academic advising, financial services, learner support and career services.
 
Our focus on flexible scheduling. We have designed our program offerings and our online delivery platform with flexible scheduling to meet the needs of working adults and other non-traditional students. We offer on-site day, evening, and weekend classes, as well as online and blended degree and diploma programs. We believe working adults and other non-traditional students are attracted to the convenience and flexibility of our programs because they can study and interact with faculty and classmates during times and at places that suit their needs.
 
Our focus on improving processes. In collaboration with the IT team, academic leaders have developed and launched or will launch three new cloud-based comprehensive service points for math, writing, career, and library support—as well as 24/7 student support. The results from previous quarters indicate that the successful completion rate in math has risen. Use of the math and writing support systems and tutoring have doubled in the past year. The IT team in collaboration with academics developed ROCKET and TEAMS 3, a cloud-based version of NAU’s signature undergraduate persistence and completion system to improve faculty and advisor response time. The cloud-based system allows faculty, advisors, campus directors, and college and associate deans to track student progress, attendance, grades, posted assignments, etc., to intervene proactively if a student becomes in any way at risk. The university has also implemented a new process to ensure that faculty and directors of student success respond to at-risk student alerts within 24 hours and post a resolution within 48 if at all possible.
 
Our focus on improving faculty-student engagement. Over the course of spring and summer quarters all new and continuing undergraduate faculty complete an orientation on new expectations for weekly synchronous and asynchronous faculty-student engagement in discussion boards, assignments, labs, and other support within every course. Faculty evaluations now include the expectation for substantive and iterative engagement; new expectations for discussions are now in place for students and faculty; and the ongoing overhaul of all courses is embedding new technology tools that enhance engagement and synchronous interaction.
 
Our focus on faculty development and scholarship. Within the Harold D. Buckingham Graduate School, the graduate and undergraduate faculty worked collaboratively to host the first conference on faculty scholarship and the adult learner. The 2017 iteration will focus on increasing awareness, showcasing graduate faculty and student research and scholarship, and improving publicity and participation. The new process to ensure faculty and student scholarship and research in the master’s programs has resulted in 100 percent graduate faculty participation in some form of professional development and/or scholarship each year. Further, all courses and programs are planned to be revised by 2019 to integrate real-world research into student activities.
 
Our focus on the military. In June 2017, the university launched the College of Military Studies (CMS) to focus and provide informed quality education and a premier customer service platform response to the needs and demands of servicemen and women, their dependents, and veterans. The CMS is also focusing on safeguarding veterans’ benefits and ensuring the military student population is well-served.
 
Our experienced executive management team with strong operating history. NAU’s executive management team possesses extensive experience in the management and operation of postsecondary education institutions. The president and chief executive officer, Dr. Ronald Shape, began his career in higher education with us in 1991. He began teaching courses in accounting, auditing and finance in 1995, became the chief fiscal officer in 2002, and the chief executive officer in April 2009. Dr. Lynn Priddy, provost and chief academic officer of the university, joined NAU in 2013. She began her career in education in 1986, serving as English faculty, director, dean, and vice president of several institutions. In 1999, she joined the largest regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, where she served fourteen years, the last five as vice president. Dr. David Heflin is the chief financial officer and joined NAU in June 2015. Dr. Heflin began his career in education in 2001. From 2001 to 2005, Dr. Heflin served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer at the University of Sioux Falls. From 2005 to 2008, he served Clayton State University as vice president of business and operations. From 2008 to 2014, Dr. Heflin led the Colorado Technical University of Sioux Falls as campus president. Dr. Heflin is a licensed certified public accountant and has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants since 1983. Dr. Robert A. Paxton was appointed president of online learning operations in January 2009 and is currently the president of external relations and strategic initiatives. From January 1995 to August 2008, Dr. Paxton served as president of Iowa Central Community College. He served as vice president of instruction of Cowley County Community College and Area Vocational-Technical School, Arkansas City, Kan., from June 1990 to December 1994 and as dean of student services from July 1988 to June 1990. Michael Buckingham was appointed president of the real estate operations in November 2009. Mr. Buckingham oversees the maintenance of all the facilities in the NAU system, as well as properties being developed by the real estate operations. Mr. Buckingham served as corporate vice president of Dlorah from 1992, and the president of Dlorah’s real estate operations from 1988, until the closing of the Dlorah merger in 2009.
 
Business Development and Expansion
 
The expansion of academic program offerings demonstrates continued investment in current and future growth. Academics has focused on persistence to improve enrollment numbers and on potential expansion of allied health programs and nursing to select campuses. New expectations for program coordinators and online recruitment centers focus on resolving and breaking the barriers to declining new enrollments. In response to workforce and student demand, we have expanded undergraduate and graduate programming in healthcare, business, education, legal studies, and management. Since 2014 more than 30 new programs have either been launched or will be launched by the end of 2017. Program expansion focuses on areas that demonstrate anticipated employment growth of 15% or higher by 2022, with most focused on allied health, information technology, security, and logistics. Our new program offerings typically build on existing programs and incorporate additional specialized courses, which offer students the opportunity to pursue programs that address their specific educational objectives while allowing us to expand our program offerings with modest incremental investment.
 
 
9
 
 
NAU began offering academic degree and diploma programs online in 1998, through what we refer to as our online campus. We were one of the first regionally accredited universities to be approved by the HLC to offer full degree programs under an Internet-based delivery methodology. We have invested heavily in the creation and evolution of a sophisticated and reliable online delivery system. The online campus has grown as an organizational structure, providing a scope of service consistent with the university’s other campuses. Careful consideration was afforded to preserving the student-centered philosophy of the university while capitalizing on the technological advancements in online delivery. Students can now access all support services, tutoring, library, career services, courses, and program information via their smart phones. In addition, IT has implemented electronic forms, replacing paper-based systems, and has launched auto-population of grades from D2L to CampusVue. In June 2017, NAU launched a completely revised virtual graduation that allows for live-streaming of graduates, faculty, and testimonials. The organization of the online campus continues to evolve in response to increasing enrollment and the expanding sphere of quality services available to our students.
 
Recognizing the current and future impact of globalization on higher education, we have worked actively to enroll international students. During the late 1990s, we started developing international affiliations with foreign colleges and universities. Such affiliations provide students from other countries the opportunity to study at universities in the United States to complete their studies. Many academically capable and motivated students from foreign countries desire to take coursework at American colleges or universities but are not able to do so for various reasons, including inadequate financial resources, family and work obligations in their home countries and immigration restrictions.
 
Growth Strategies
 
Expand academic program offerings. NAU continues to focus on offering a variety of in-demand degree programs in multiple locations and delivery formats. On all levels, we consider changes in student demographics, demand for degree programs and employment outlook in our business development decision-making processes. The planning process includes long-range planning, feasibility studies, market research and a variety of other research projects involving changing job markets. In that regard, we continue to address current societal and economic trends and engage in appropriate analysis and planning for the programs and markets we seek to develop. New program offerings typically build on existing programs and incorporate additional specialized courses, which offer students the opportunity to pursue programs that address their specific educational objectives while allowing us to expand our program offerings with modest incremental investment.
 
 
10
 
 
Increase enrollment in existing academic programs. We focus on increasing enrollment in our core academic programs by refining our marketing and recruiting efforts to identify, and enroll students seeking degrees or diplomas in the academic programs we offer. We also focus on retaining students so they may achieve their educational goals. We believe that the depth and quality of our existing core programs will provide opportunity for additional growth. The business-related master’s programs continue to increase in enrollment, benefitting from the dual credit at the bachelor’s level and other solid changes and improvements made at the graduate school.
 
Expand relationships with private sector and government employers. We seek additional relationships with healthcare systems, businesses, and other employers, including governmental and military employers, through which we can market our program offerings to their employees. These relationships provide enrollment opportunities for the university’s programs, build recognition among employers in our core disciplines, and enable us to identify new degree and diploma programs that are in demand by students and employers.
 
Leverage infrastructure. We intend to continue investing in our people, processes, and technology infrastructure. As we overhaul the learning management system, the goal is to create the NAU experience that refreshes and engages working adult learners, solidifying NAU as the place for our students to achieve a better life and more fulfilling work. NAU also offers an innovative hybrid teaching and learning experience not bound by geography. Through Mondo Synchronous Learning (Mondo SL), we can offer real-time learning experiences through the 70-inch Mondo Pads to NAU students that bridge campuses, build diverse communities of learners, showcase our best instructors, and provide access to the traditional campus experience. We believe these investments have prepared us to deliver our academic programs to a larger student population with only modest incremental investment. We intend to leverage these investments as we seek to grow enrollment, which we believe will allow us to increase our operating margins over time.
 
Continue to expand affiliations with other educational institutions. NAU provides online course hosting and technical assistance to approximately 2,500 students through affiliated institutions. We will continue to seek to expand the number of affiliations with other educational institutions to provide online program services. These services can meet the needs of other institutions while providing us with additional sources of revenue.
 
Pursue strategic acquisitions. We will consider acquisitions of educational institutions with the potential for program replication, new areas of study, new markets with attractive growth opportunities, further expansion of our online delivery capability and advanced degree programs.
 
Accreditation and Program Approvals
 
The quality of our academic programs is evidenced by institutional and program-specific accreditations and approvals. We received initial accreditation from the HLC in 1985. Since then, we have continued to grow and expand, and have obtained HLC approval for new geographic sites and graduate degree programs. In addition to institution-wide accreditation, numerous specialized commissions accredit or approve specific programs or schools, particularly in healthcare and professional fields. Accreditation or approval of specific programs by one of these specialized commissions signifies that those programs have met the additional standards of those agencies. For a list of our institutional and specialized or professional accreditation see “Regulatory Matters — Accreditation.”
 
We are approved for veterans training and for administering various educational programs sponsored by federal and state agencies, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Social Security Administration and various state rehabilitation services.
 
Programs and Areas of Study
 
NAU offers the Doctor of Education, a Master of Business Administration, Master of Management, Master of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Science degrees, with a variety of program options leading to each of these degrees. Many of the degree programs offer emphasis areas. We also offer diploma programs consisting of a series of courses focused on particular areas of study for students seeking to enhance their skills and knowledge in the areas of information technology and allied health.
 
As of May 31, 2017, we offered the following degree and diploma programs:
 
 
11
 
Graduate Degrees
Associate Degrees
Doctor of Education
Accounting
Master of Business Administration
Business Administration
Master of Business Administration with:
Business Logistics
 Emphasis in Accounting
Computer Support Specialist
 Emphasis in Aviation Management
Construction Management
 Emphasis in E-Marketing
Criminal Justice
 Emphasis in Health Care Administration
Emergency Medical Services
 Emphasis in Human Resource Management
Health and Beauty Management
 Emphasis in Information Technology Management
Health Information Technology
 Emphasis in International Business
Information Technology
 Emphasis in Management
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
 Emphasis in Operations and Configuration Management
Management
 Emphasis in Project and Process Management
Medical Administrative Assistant
Executive Master of Business Administration
Medical Assisting
 
Medical Laboratory Technician
Master of Management
Medical Staff Services Management
Master of Management with:
Occupational Therapy Assistant
 Emphasis in Aviation Management
Associate of Science in Nursing
 Emphasis in Criminal Justice Management
Paralegal Studies
 Emphasis in E-Marketing
Professional Legal Studies
 Emphasis in Health Care Administration
Retail Management
 Emphasis in Higher Education
Small Business Management
 Emphasis in Human Resource Management
Surgical Technology
 Emphasis in Information Technology Management
 
 Emphasis in Operations and Configuration Management
 Emphasis in Project and Process Management
 
Diplomas
 
Accounting and Bookkeeping
 
Computer Support Specialist
Master of Science in Nursing
Healthcare Coding
Master of Science in Nursing with:
Medical Billing and Coding
 Emphasis in Care Coordination
Network and Server Administrator
 Emphasis in Education
Office Applications and Software Support
 Emphasis in Nursing Administration
 
 Emphasis in Nursing Informatics
 
 
 
Bachelor’s Degrees
 
Accounting
 
Aviation Management
 
Business Administration
 
Business Administration with:
 
 Emphasis in Accounting
 
 Emphasis in Entrepreneurship
 
 Emphasis in Financial Management
 
 Emphasis in Human Resource Management
 
 Emphasis in Management
 
 Emphasis in Management Information Systems
 
 Emphasis in Marketing
 
 Emphasis in Retail Management
 
 Emphasis in Supply Chain Management
 
 Emphasis in Tourism and Hospitality Management
 
Construction Management
 
Criminal Justice
 
Emergency Medical Services Management
 
Energy and Manufacturing Management
 
Energy Management
 
Healthcare Management
 
Information Technology
 
Information Technology – Game Software Development
 
Information Technology with:
 
 Emphasis in Applications Development
 
 Emphasis in Cybersecurity and Forensics
 
 Emphasis in Database Administration/Microsoft
 
 Emphasis in Management Information Systems
 
 Emphasis in Network Management/Microsoft
 
 Emphasis in Web Development
 
Licensed Practical Nursing to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
 
Management
 
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
 
Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
 
Organizational Leadership
 
Paralegal Studies
 
Professional Legal Studies
 
 
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Third-Party Relationships
 
Collaborations
 
We work with local businesses and corporations where our educational sites are located to offer a variety of courses and schedule formats to assist busy professionals. For certain programs, we offer customized courses and schedules and on-site classes. For example, we have relationships with hospitals and healthcare centers so students in the nursing and allied health programs can complete their clinical and practicum experiences on-site.
 
We also collaborate with local and national entities to provide educational programs that they desire. Examples of these collaborations include military memoranda of understanding and governmental and educational alliances. Among these alliances is our affiliation with the Serviceman’s Opportunity College, which was developed in response to the special needs of adult continuing education for people in the armed forces.
 
Affiliations
 
NAU began offering online academic programs in 1998, and has continually developed expertise in curricula and technology related to online education. We have established a number of affiliations with other educational institutions to provide curriculum development services and technology support services. We also believe NAU provides an appealing opportunity for displaced students of closed schools who seek to continue their education through transfer and teach-out options.
 
Associate to Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program
 
Our associate to bachelor’s degree completion programs, also called the 2 + 2 degree completion programs, are based on strategic affiliations with various higher education institutions in the United States. These programs allow students with an associates degree to transfer into a bachelor’s degree.
 
 
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Educational and Administrative Sites
 
The central administration is in Rapid City, South Dakota. We lease our educational and administrative sites from third parties. As of May 31, 2017, we provided educational offerings and support services in the following locations:
 
State
  
Address
 
Approximate Size
Colorado:
  
8242 S. University Blvd., Suite 100
 
4,600 sq. ft.
 
  
Centennial, CO  80122-3178
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1079 Space Center Dr.
 
  5,500 sq. ft.
 
 
Colorado Springs, CO  80915-3612
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1915 Jamboree Dr., Suite 185
 
9,300 sq. ft.
 
 
Colorado Springs, CO 80920-5378
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
350 Blackhawk Street
 
14,436 sq. ft.
 
  
Aurora, CO 80011
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Indiana:
 
3600 Woodview Trace, Suite 200
 
16,375 sq. ft.
 
 
Indianapolis, IN 46268-3167
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kansas:
  
10310 Mastin St.
 
25,500 sq. ft.
 
  
Overland Park, KS 66212-5451
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
7309 E. 21st St. North, Suite G40
 
10,100 sq. ft.
 
  
Wichita, KS 67206-1179
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8428 W.  13th St. N., Suite 120
 
6,600 sq. ft.
 
 
Wichita, KS 67212-2980
 
 
 
 
 
 
Minnesota:
  
7801 Metro Parkway, Suite 200
 
20,400 sq. ft.
 
  
Bloomington, MN 55425-1536
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
6200 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 130
 
14,300 sq. ft.
 
  
Brooklyn Center, MN 55430-2131
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1550 W. Highway 36
 
14,800 sq. ft.
 
 
Roseville, MN 55113-4035
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3906 E Frontage Highway 52 Rd. NW
 
7,150 sq. ft.
 
 
Rochester, MN 55901-0108
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
10901 Red Circle Dr., Suite 150
 
5,200 sq. ft.
 
  
Minnetonka, MN 55343-4545
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 513 W. Travelers Trail
 
6,000 sq. ft.
 
 
 Burnsville, MN  55337-2548
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Missouri:
3620 Arrowhead Ave.
18,300 sq. ft.
 
Independence, MO 64057-1791
 
 
 
 
 
7490 NW 87th St.
         16,700 sq. ft.  
 
Kansas City, MO 64153-1934
 
 
 
 
 
401 NW Murray Rd.
7,000 sq. ft.
 
Lee’s Summit, MO 64081-1425
 
 
 
 
Nebraska:
3604 Summit Plaza Dr.
9,500 sq. ft.
 
Bellevue, NE 68123-1065
 
 
 
 
New Mexico:
4775 Indian School Rd. NE, Suite 200
24,400 sq. ft.
 
Albuquerque, NM 87110-3976
 
 
 
 
 
10131 Coors Blvd., NW Suite I-01
6,200 sq. ft.
 
Albuquerque, NM 87114-4045
 
 
 
 
Oklahoma:
8040 S. Sheridan Rd.
8,600 sq. ft.
 
Tulsa, OK 74133-8945
 
 
 
 
South Dakota:
5301 Mount Rushmore Rd. *
99,600 sq. ft.
 
Rapid City, SD 57701-8931
 
 
 
 
 
1000 Ellsworth St., Suite 2400B
6,700 sq. ft.
 
Ellsworth AFB, SD 57706-4943
 
 
 
 
 
5801 S. Corporate
22,400q. ft.
 
Sioux Falls, SD 57108-5027
 
 
 
 
 
925 29th St. SE
4,700 sq. ft.
 
Watertown, SD 57201-9123
 
 
 
 
Texas:
13801 Burnet Rd., Suite 300
20,400 sq. ft.
 
Austin, TX 78727-1281
 
 
 
 
 
6836 Austin Center Blvd, Suite 270
10,300 sq. ft.
 
Austin, TX 78731-3188
 
 
 
 
 
4522 Fredericksburg Rd., Suite A100
37,343 sq. ft.
 
San Antonio, TX 78201
 
 
 
 
 
1015 West University Ave. Suite 700
7,170 sq. ft.
 
Georgetown, TX 78628-5355
 
 
 
 
 
203 West Jasper, Suite 200
2,021 sq. ft.  
 
Killeen, TX 78752
 
 
 
 
 
300 N. Coit Road, Suite 225
4,700 sq. ft.
 
Richardson, TX 75080-5400
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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475 State Highway 121 S. By-pass, Suite 150
5,500 sq. ft.  
 
Lewisville, TX 75067-8193
 
 
 
 
 
18600 LBJ Freeway
16,800 sq. ft.  
 
Mesquite, TX 75150-5628
 
 
 
 
 
11511 Katy Freeway, Suite 200
3,007 sq. ft.  
 
Houston, TX 77079-1744
 
 
* Rapid City Campus, Distance Learning Operations & Central Administration
 
The university periodically offers credit and non-credit offerings in other locations. Our on-site programs not only offer students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to participate in a more traditional college experience, but also provide online students, faculty, and staff with a sense of connection to the university.
 
Faculty and Other Employees
 
NAU’s faculty includes full-time and part-time campus-based and online faculty members. Approximately 72% of our current faculty members hold a master’s degree in their respective field and approximately 21% hold a doctoral degree or first professional degree. During fiscal year 2017, the university employed approximately 80 full-time and 800 part-time faculty members; more than 550 faculty members are active each quarter. These numbers reflect an effort by the institution to effectively manage redundant course offerings and to maintain academically sound class sizes. Average class size ranges from less than 10 students on ground to 21 students online depending on the academic program. The average class size system wide is about 16 students per class.
 
We follow a specific process for hiring faculty in accordance with published standards for faculty members based on state regulations, HLC requirements, and specialized standards.
 
NAU recruits qualified faculty through postings on the university’s website, as well as placement of advertisements in local and national media. We review official transcripts to validate academic qualifications and faculty vitae to verify academic preparation consistent with the university’s qualification guidelines, as well as engagement in relevant professional activities.
 
Training, evaluating and recognizing faculty members originates with the college dean and associate academic deans. All faculty members complete an online faculty orientation, coordinated by the system academics office, which consists of seven modules addressing the university’s mission and core values, the instructor’s role at the university, learning concepts and theories, good practices in teaching and assessment, classroom management, and accreditation standards and regulatory requirements related to academics. Regularly scheduled webinars are also available for faculty development each quarter. In addition, the campus directors and full-time faculty are responsible for local orientation and in-service programs for faculty, schedules for faculty appraisal, promotions, and merit increase recommendations, as well as formal and informal efforts to retain faculty members. Central academics establishes and upholds the university’s policies and practices for faculty appraisal. We provide ongoing and meaningful feedback on individual performance to our faculty members for their professional growth and for the continued advancement of the university. Retention of quality adjunct faculty is a priority.
 
Faculty and staff are encouraged to actively participate in a variety of academic and non-academic organizations. Faculty members participate in a wide variety of professional associations and activities at the local, state and regional level. We encourage our faculty and staff to stay current on changes and trends within higher education, as well as their respective industries. Participation in professional organizations by faculty and staff bring current information relevant to the university’s mission and programming to students and the workplace.
 
In addition to our faculty, as of May 31, 2017, we employed more than 600 staff and administrative personnel in university services, academic advising and support, enrollment services, university administration, financial aid, information technology, human resources, corporate accounting, finance, and other administrative functions. None of our employees is a party to any collective bargaining or similar agreement with the university.
 
 
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Marketing, Recruitment, and Retention
 
Marketing. We engage in a range of activities designed to generate awareness among prospective students, such as building brand awareness via internet platforms, television and radio advertising, direct mail, email, and print. The marketing department’s goal is to distribute relevant content to our target audiences in order to gain brand awareness, create a desire to attend NAU by engaging our audiences, and support admissions in enrollment growth. NAU’s audience is primarily adult learners choosing to advance their education for personal and career-related goals.
 
Recruitment. Once a prospective student has indicated an interest in enrolling, the university’s lead management system identifies and directs an admissions representative to initiate prompt communication. The enrollment and completion advisor serves as the primary, direct contact for the prospective student, and the advisor’s goal is to help the student gain sufficient knowledge and understanding of the university’s programs so the prospective student can assess whether the university’s offerings satisfy his or her goals.
 
Retention. We utilize our enrollment and completion advisors and a director of student success at each location to support students in advancing from matriculation through attainment of educational goals. Team members monitor various risk factors, such as the failure to buy books for a registered course, lack of attendance or failure to participate in online orientation exercises. Upon identifying an at-risk student, the university can interact with the student to assist him or her in continuing his or her program of study.
 
Student Support Services
 
Encouraging students to complete their degree programs is critical to our success. We invest great effort in developing and providing resources that simplify the student enrollment process, acclimate students to our programs and online environment, and support the student educational experience. Many of our support services, including academic, administrative and library services, are accessible online, allowing users to access these services at a time and in a manner convenient for them.
 
The student support services we provide include:
 
Academic and learner support services. We provide students with a variety of services designed to support their academic studies. We offer students entrance orientation, academic advising, technical support, research services, writing services, ADA accommodations, access to counseling, and tutoring. New faculty-student high-touch, high-engagement strategies continue to improve both persistence rates and academic achievement at the graduate level.
 
Administrative services. We provide students access to a variety of administrative services in person as well as telephonically and via the Internet. For example, students can review class schedules, apply for financial aid, pay tuition, and access their unofficial transcripts online. The university’s financial service representatives provide personalized online and telephonic support to the students.
 
Library services. We provide a mix of online and on-campus library resources, services, and instruction to support the educational and research endeavors of our students, faculty and staff, including physical and online libraries and online library resources available 24/7. We plan to launch new cloud-based service points for library support in the future.
 
Career services. For those students seeking to change careers or explore new career opportunities, we offer career services support, including resume review and evaluation, career planning workshops and access to career services information for advice and support. We plan to launch new cloud-based service points for career services support in the future.
 
Technology support services. We provide online technical support to help students remedy technology-related issues. We also provide online tutorials and “Frequently Asked Questions” for students who are new to online coursework.
 
Admissions
 
Prospective students complete an application to enroll in our programs. Once the application has been submitted, an admissions representative and student services personnel assist the applicant through the admissions process, course registration and matriculation. Financial services representatives, if needed, assist with financial aid. Prospective students complete placement tests to determine any missing skills, which enables the university to best serve students by enrolling them in classes to build those skills, thereby increasing their chances of success.
 
 
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Applicants to the university’s Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) requires a master’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher education in the United States or, an international higher education institution recognized by the ministry of education or other appropriate government agency and a transcript evaluation from an organization approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES); a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 (of a possible 4.00 GPA) achieved for all previous graduate coursework; three years of related professional experience; and a willingness to matriculate through the program of study as a member of a cohort.
 
International applicants to the university’s doctoral program must provide evidence of completion of a graduate degree in the form of official transcripts from (i) a regionally accredited institution of higher education in the United States; or (ii) an international higher education institution recognized by the ministry of education or other appropriate government agency and a transcript evaluation from an organization approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES); must complete and submit the International Financial Certification form and attach an original bank statement. International students are required, as part of the application process, to show evidence of sufficient funding during their studies. The amount and source of funds are also shown on the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) needed to apply for an F-1 visa. In addition, students planning to bring a spouse and/or children are required to show additional funds for those individuals. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English through satisfaction of one of the following requirements:
 
a.        Provide an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score report indicating a minimum score of 550 for a paper-based, 213 for a computer-based or 80 for an Internet-based exam (The TOEFL must have been taken within the past two calendar years. Official test scores must be sent from the testing agency to National American University. When ordering TOEFL test results, include the university’s school code of 6464.).
 
b.        Provide an official International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score report with an overall minimum score of 6.0. (The IELTS must have been taken within the past two calendar years. Official test scores must be sent from the testing agency to National American University.)
 
c.        Provide evidence of completion of two trimesters (or equivalent) of college-level English (excluding ESL courses) with a grade of C or higher at a college or university whose language of instruction is English.
 
d.        Provide evidence of English language proficiency as deemed appropriate by National American University.
 
Applicants to the MBA and MM programs must have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree or equivalent from an institution recognized or accredited by an appropriate government or third-party agency.
 
Applicants to the university’s Executive MBA program must have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree or equivalent from an institution recognized or accredited by an appropriate government or third-party agency, and a minimum of seven years of acceptable management experience.
 
Applicants to the university’s MSN program must have graduated from a baccalaureate degree program in nursing from an accredited institution; have a current active unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license from any state within the United States; and have a minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale during the baccalaureate degree completion.
 
International applicants to the university’s master’s programs must provide evidence of completion of a baccalaureate degree in the form of official transcripts from (i) an international higher education institution recognized by the ministry of education or other appropriate government agency and a transcript evaluation from an organization approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) or (ii) a U.S. higher education institution; must complete and submit the International Financial Certification form and attach an original bank statement. International students are required, as part of the application process, to show evidence of sufficient funding during their studies. The amount and source of funds are also shown on the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) needed to apply for an F-1 visa. In addition, students planning to bring a spouse and/or children are required to show additional funds for those individuals. Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English through satisfaction of one of the following requirements:
 
a.        Provide an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score report indicating a minimum score of 550 for a paper-based, 213 for a computer-based or 80 for an Internet-based exam (The TOEFL must have been taken within the past two calendar years. Official test scores must be sent from the testing agency to National American University. When ordering TOEFL test results, include the university’s school code of 6464.).
 
b.        Provide an official International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score report with an overall minimum score of 6.0. (The IELTS must have been taken within the past two calendar years. Official test scores must be sent from the testing agency to National American University.)
 
c.        Provide evidence of completion of two trimesters (or equivalent) of college-level English (excluding ESL courses) with a grade of C or higher at a college or university whose language of instruction is English.
 
d.        Provide evidence of English language proficiency as deemed appropriate by National American University.
 
Undergraduate applicants must have graduated from a recognized high school (or the Department of Education or state-required accepted equivalent) or submit an official transcript from an accredited higher education institution in the United States indicating completion of a postsecondary education program of at least two years that is acceptable for full credit toward a bachelor’s degree, with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0. Non-native English speaking applicants must provide an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score report indicating a minimum score of 520 for a paper-based, 190 for a computer-based, or 68 for an Internet-based exam; or provide an official Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) score report indicating a minimum score of 750 (not applicable to student enrolled in the nursing program); or provide an official International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score report with an overall minimum score of 5.; or provide evidence of completion of two semesters (or the equivalent) of college-level English (excluding ESL courses) with a grade of “C” or higher at an accredited college or university whose language of instruction is English; or provide evidence of English language proficiency by completing the Accuplacer ESL English assessment exam with minimum scores or 102 or higher in reading, 100 or higher in sentence meaning, 95 or higher in language usage and 5 or higher in writing sample.
 
 
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Enrollment
 
Enrollments have decreased from 8,185 students as of May 31, 2016 to 6,703 students as of May 31, 2017, representing an annual decrease of approximately 18.1% mainly as a result of a decrease in continuing education students who enroll in one-off courses. Excluding these students, enrollment decreased 9.4% year over year. As of May 31, 2017, we had 4,691 students enrolled in our online programs, 1,309 students enrolled on-campus, and 703 students enrolled through our hybrid learning centers. The average age of our students is approximately 35 years.
 
The following is a summary of our student enrollment at May 31, 2017, and May 31, 2016, by degree type and by instructional delivery method:
 
 
 
May 31, 2017 (Spring '17 Qtr)
 
 
May 31, 2016 (Spring '16 Qtr)
 
 

 
 
 
 Number of Students
 
 
 % of Total
 
 
Number of Students
 
 
 % of Total
 
 
 % Change for same quarter over prior year
 
Continuing Ed
  170
 
  2.5%
  972 
  11.9%
  -82.5%
Doctoral
  98 
  1.5%
  87 
  1.1%
  12.6%
Graduate
  366 
  5.5%
  324 
  3.9%
  13.0%
Undergraduate and Diploma
  6,069 
  90.5%
  6,802 
  83.1%
  -10.8%
Total
  6,703
 
  100.0%
  8,185 
  100.0%
  -18.1%
 
    
    
    
    
    
On-Campus
  1,309
 
  19.5%
  2,400 
  29.3%
  -45.5%
Online
  4,691 
  70.0%
  4,868 
  59.5%
  -3.6%
Hybrid
  703 
  10.5%
  917 
  11.2%
  -23.3%
Total
  6,703
 
  100.0%
  8,185 
  100.0%
  -18.1%

Tuition and Fees
 
Our tuition rates vary by educational site. Total tuition varies based upon several factors, including the number of credit hours for each program, the degree level of the program, and geographic location.
 
Our students finance their education through a variety of sources, including government sponsored financial aid, private and NAU provided scholarships, employer provided tuition assistance, veteran’s benefits, private loans, and cash payments. A substantial portion of our students rely on funds received under various government sponsored student financial aid programs, predominately Title IV programs. In the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017, 2016, and 2015, approximately 82.6%, 86.8%, and 89.2%, respectively, of our revenues (calculated on a cash basis) were attributable to funds derived from Title IV programs. In the future, we expect to continue the current initiatives to increase revenue from sources other than Title IV programs, such as continuing education programming that is not eligible for Title IV program funding.
 
We have a refund policy for tuition and fees based upon quarterly start dates. If a student drops or withdraws from a course during the first week of classes, 100% of the charges for tuition and fees are refunded. After the first week but during the first 60% of scheduled classes the percentage of tuition charges refunded for a student who totally withdraws from NAU is based on a daily proration based on a percent of the term completed thru the last day of attendance. If the last day of attendance is beyond 60% of the scheduled classes, tuition and fees are not refunded. A $75 administrative fee is assessed against each prorated refund. A refund minus a $75 administrative fee is made within 45 days of the day the student’s withdrawal is determined. If the student was a financial aid recipient, federal regulations establish a methodology for determining the amount of Title IV funds that must be returned to the financial aid programs for students not completing 60% of the enrollment period.
 
 
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Technology Systems
 
We remain focused on leveraging the use of technology to increase efficiencies in our academic programs and our general administrative operations. This commitment requires not only institutional budget expenditures, but also orientation and training in the use of this technology.
 
To service our online teaching we utilize Desire2Learn TM, or D2L, an Internet-based learning management system. The features of this product include content display and organization, synchronous and asynchronous chat, private messaging, quizzing, student surveys and assignment submission and student tracking and grading. The system is used to present online courses to both domestic and international students. In collaboration with the IT team, academic leaders have developed and launched or will launch three new cloud-based comprehensive service points for math, writing, career, and library support—as well as student support 24/7.
 
Together with the IT team, academics has developed ROCKET and TEAMS 3, the online, cloud-based version of NAU’s signature undergraduate persistence and completion system. Intended to be launched by Fall Quarter, the cloud-based system allows faculty, advisors, campus directors, and college deans and associate deans to track student progress, attendance, grades, posted assignments, etc., so as to intervene proactively if a student becomes in any way at risk.
 
Recognizing the need to manage content used in the D2L learning management system, we implemented the Desire2Learn Learning Object Repository™ application to input, organize, manage and display course materials. This application provides an Internet-based, content entry and editing interface that allows content experts to create and edit course content. Additionally, it organizes text, images, documents and multimedia resources in a relational database, allowing the university to more easily identify and re-task existing content for new projects and courses through the use of Meta data. Finally, the application is integrated with the learning management system and is used to display and deliver content seamlessly through D2L to students.
 
Intellectual Property
 
We rely on a combination of copyrights, trademarks, service marks, trade secrets, domain names and agreements with third parties to protect proprietary rights. Through the extensive development of electronic instructional materials, on-campus and online courseware and related processes, we continue to accumulate intellectual property that has provided the basis for improving quality of instruction, programs and services to our students.
 
We rely on trademark and service mark protections in the United States and other countries for our name and distinctive logos, along with various other trademarks and service marks related to specific offerings. We own federal registrations for the principal trademarks, National American University® and NAU® in the United States. These marks are important symbols for us and are used on our educational services and educational materials and a range of other items, including clothing and other memorabilia. These brands appear in advertising and are seen by members of the public as well as direct constituents. We own domain name rights to “national.edu” as well as its derivatives, and a number of “nau” related domain names.
 
NAU publishes intellectual property policies in both the faculty and employee handbooks that outline the ownership of creative works and inventions produced by employees within the scope of their employment, compliance with copyright law, and the use of copyrighted materials. When content experts are hired to develop curriculum, they are required to execute a standard agreement to confirm that all materials created under the scope of their work becomes NAU’s exclusive intellectual property. These agreements also require the content experts to comply with all laws related to copyright and the use of copyrighted materials.
 
 
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Real Estate Operations
 
Fairway Hills, the real estate operations, conducts business through various projects and associations, including Fairway Hills I and II, Park West, Vista Park, Fairway Hills Park and Recreational Association, the Vista Park Homeowners’ Association and the Park West Homeowners’ Association. Fairway Hills I and Fairway Hills II are apartment buildings consisting of a total of 52 rental apartments of which 99% were leased as of May 31, 2017. Park West consists of 48 apartment units and is owned by a partnership that is 50% owned by the Company and 50% owned by members of the Buckingham family (including Robert Buckingham, chairman of our board of directors, and his siblings and the spouses and estates of his siblings). Park West is 98% leased with 5 units currently owned as of May 31, 2017. Vista Park consists of 24 total condominium units of which a total of 7 have been sold to-date. Prices for Vista Park condominium units start at $160,000. Fairway Hills recently completed construction on a 24-unit luxury apartment complex referred to as Arrowhead View of which 16 of the units were under lease as of May 31, 2017 prior to the opening of the complex.
 
In connection with the development of Vista Park and the Park West apartments, Fairway Hills has created two homeowners’ associations, the Vista Park Homeowner’s Association and the Park West Homeowner’s Association, each of which is a non-profit corporation, to manage and sell the condominiums. In addition, the Fairway Hills Park and Recreational Association, which is also a non-profit corporation, was created to operate as a homeowner’s association covering substantially all of the Fairway Hills development.
 
Environmental
 
Our facilities and operations are subject to a variety of environmental laws and regulations governing, among other things, the use, storage and disposal of solid and hazardous substances and waste, and the clean-up of contamination at our facilities or off-site locations to which we send or have sent waste for disposal. If we do not maintain compliance with any of these laws and regulations, or are responsible for a spill or release of hazardous materials, we could incur costs for clean-up, damages, and fines or penalties.
 
Compliance with Applicable Laws
 
We strive to comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. We have a designated university compliance officer and maintain an institutional compliance program that:
 
 
monitors compliance and, when gaps or violations occur, develops responses to correct deficiencies in a timely manner;
 
 
communicates institutional principles designed to deter wrongdoing and to promote ethical conduct. Further, audits are periodically conducted to ensure compliance with applicable laws;
 
 
ensures that federally required Title IV student financial assistance program compliance attestation examinations are conducted annually to determine compliance and to identify any deficiencies requiring correction;
 
 
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ensures an audit of 401(k) retirement plans is conducted annually for compliance with applicable laws and fiduciary duties; and
 
 
engages an independent auditing firm to audit the annual financial statements.
 
REGULATORY MATTERS
 
NAU is subject to extensive regulation by state education agencies, accrediting commissions, and the United States federal government through the U.S. Department of Education (the “Department of Education”) under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, (the “Higher Education Act”). The regulations, standards and policies of these agencies cover substantially all our operations, including the educational programs, facilities, instructional and administrative staff, administrative procedures, marketing, recruiting, finances, results of operations and financial condition.
 
As an institution of higher education that grants degrees and diplomas, we are required to comply with the requirements of state education authorities. To participate in federal programs of student financial assistance, we are required to be accredited by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department 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 commission and the stated aims and purposes of the institution. The Higher Education Act requires accrediting commissions recognized by the Department of Education to review and monitor many aspects of an institution’s operations and to take appropriate action if the institution fails to meet the accrediting commission’s standards.
 
NAU’s operations are also subject to regulation by the Department of Education due to our participation in Title IV programs. To participate in Title IV programs, a school must receive and maintain authorization by the appropriate state education agency or agencies, be accredited by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education and be certified as an eligible institution by the Department of Education. Prior to July 1, 2010, Title IV programs included educational loans provided directly by the federal government, grant programs for students with demonstrated financial need, and educational loans issued by private banks with below-market interest rates that were guaranteed by the federal government in the event of a student’s default on repayment of the loan. As of July 1, 2010, the federal government provides all educational loans under Title IV.
 
We plan and implement our business activities to comply with the standards of these regulatory agencies. Our chief executive officer and chief financial officer, also provide oversight designed to ensure that we meet the requirements of this regulatory environment.
 
State Authorization and Regulation
 
NAU is subject to extensive regulations by the states in which we are authorized or licensed to operate. State laws and regulations typically establish standards in areas such as instruction, qualifications of faculty, administrative procedures, marketing, recruiting, financial operations and other operational matters, which can be different than and conflict with the requirements of the Department of Education and other applicable regulatory bodies. State laws and regulations may limit our ability to offer educational programs and offer certain degrees. Some states may also prescribe financial regulations that are different from those of the Department of Education and many require the posting of surety bonds.
 
 
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In addition, several states have jurisdiction over educational institutions offering online degree programs although there is no physical location or other presence in the state. The institution may be enrolling or offering educational services to students who reside in the state, conducting practicums or sponsoring internships in the state, employing faculty who reside in the state or advertising or recruiting prospective students in the state. State regulatory requirements for online education vary, are not well developed in many states, are imprecise or unclear in some states and can change frequently.
 
We have determined that our activities in certain states constitute a presence requiring licensure or authorization under the current requirements of the state education agency, and in other states we have approvals in connection with our marketing and recruiting activities. We review the state licensure requirements to determine whether our activities constitute a presence or otherwise require licensure or authorization by the state education agency. When necessary we submit additional applications for licensure or authorization.
 
We are required by the Higher Education Act to be authorized by applicable state educational agencies in South Dakota and other states where we are physically located to participate in Title IV programs. On December 19, 2016, the Department of Education published final regulations regarding state authorization for programs offered through distance education and state authorization for foreign locations of institutions. Among other provisions, these final regulations require that an institution participating in the Title IV federal student aid programs and offering postsecondary education through distance education be authorized by each state in which the institution enrolls students, if such authorization is required by the state. The Department of Education would recognize authorization through participation in a state authorization reciprocity agreement, if the agreement does not prevent a state from enforcing its own laws. The final regulations also require that foreign additional locations and branch campuses be authorized by the appropriate foreign government agency and, if at least 50% of a program can be completed at the location/branch, be approved by the institution’s accrediting agency and be reported to the state where the main campus is located. The final regulations also require institutions to: document the state process for resolving complaints from students enrolled in programs offered through distance education or correspondence courses; and make certain public and individualized disclosures to enrolled and prospective students about their distance education programs. These final regulations are effective July 1, 2018. See “Regulatory Matters – Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs – State Authorization.”
 
In addition, in recent years several states have voluntarily entered into State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (“SARA”) that establish standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. If an institution’s home state participates in SARA and authorizes the institution to provide distance education in accordance with SARA standards, then the institution need not obtain additional authorizations for distance education from any other SARA member state. The SARA participation requirements and process are administered by the four regional higher education compacts in the United States (the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, the New England Board of Higher Education, the Southern Regional Education Board and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) and are overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. NAU is approved to participate in SARA, through the SARA Coordinator of the South Dakota Board of Regents as a state portal agency, with its most recent approval effective from April 18, 2017 through April 17, 2018.
 
We do not believe that any of the states in which we are currently licensed or authorized, other than South Dakota, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, are individually material to our operations. If we fail to comply with state licensing requirements, we may lose our state licensure or authorizations. If we lose state licensure in a state in which we have a physical location, or in a state where we are required to maintain authorization for online education activities, we would also lose Title IV eligibility in that state. If we are found not to be in compliance with state requirements for online learning, and a state seeks to restrict one or more of our business activities within its boundaries, we may not be able to recruit students from that state and may have to cease providing educational programs to students in that state or may be subject to other sanctions, including fines or penalties. Compliance with these new and changing laws, regulations or interpretations related to state authorization and offering programs via online delivery could increase our cost of doing business and affect our ability to recruit students in particular states, which could, in turn, adversely affect enrollments, revenues and our business.
 
State Professional Licensure
 
Many states have specific licensure requirements that an individual must satisfy to be licensed as a professional in specified fields, including fields such as education and healthcare. These requirements vary by state and by field. A student’s success in obtaining licensure following graduation typically depends on several factors, including the background and qualifications of the individual graduate, as well as the following factors, among others:
 
 
whether the institution and the program were approved by the state in which the graduate seeks licensure, or by a professional association;
 
 
whether the program from which the student graduated meets all requirements for professional licensure in that state;
 
 
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whether the institution and the program are accredited and, if so, by what accrediting commissions; and
 
 
whether the institution’s degrees are recognized by other states in which a student may seek to work.
 
Many states also require that graduates pass a state test or examination as a prerequisite to becoming certified in certain fields, such as nursing. Many states also may require a criminal background clearance before granting certain professional licensures or certifications. The catalog informs students that it is incumbent upon the student to verify whether a specific criminal background clearance is required in their field of study prior to beginning course work.
 
Accreditation
 
We have been institutionally accredited since 1985 by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a regional accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education. Our accreditation by the HLC was most recently affirmed in January 2015. Accreditation is a private, non-governmental process for evaluating the quality of educational institutions and their programs in areas, including student performance, governance, integrity, educational quality, faculty, physical resources, administrative capability and resources and financial stability. To be recognized by the Department of Education, accrediting commissions must comply with Department of Education regulations, which require, among other things, that accrediting agencies adopt specific criteria for their review of educational institutions, conduct peer review evaluations of institutions, and publicly designate those institutions that meet their criteria. An accredited institution is subject to periodic review by its accrediting commissions to determine whether it continues to meet the performance, integrity and quality required for accreditation.
 
There are six regional accrediting commissions recognized by the Department of Education, each with a specified geographic scope of coverage, which together cover the entire United States. Most traditional, public and private non-profit, degree-granting colleges and universities are accredited by one of these six regional accrediting commissions. The HLC, which accredits NAU, accredits other degree-granting public and private colleges and universities in the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
 
Accreditation by the HLC is important for several reasons, one being that it enables students to receive Title IV financial aid. Other colleges and universities depend, in part, on an institution’s accreditation in evaluating transfers of credit and applications to graduate schools. Employers rely on the accredited status of institutions when evaluating candidates’ credentials, and students and corporate and government sponsors under tuition reimbursement programs consider accreditation as assurance that an institution maintains quality educational standards. If we fail to satisfy the criteria of the HLC, we could lose our accreditation by that commission, which would cause us to lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.
 
The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 2008, and Department of Education regulations that became effective July 1, 2010, require accrediting commissions to monitor the growth of institutions that they accredit. The HLC requires all affiliated institutions, including NAU, to complete an annual data report. If the non-financial data, enrollment information, or any other information submitted by the institution indicate problems, rapid change or significant growth, the HLC staff may require that the institution address any concerns arising from the data report in the next comprehensive evaluation or may recommend additional monitoring. In addition, the Department of Education regulations that became effective July 1, 2010 require the HLC to notify the Department of Education if an institution accredited by the HLC that offers distance learning programs, such as NAU, experiences an increase in its headcount enrollment of 50% or more in any fiscal year. The Department of Education may consider that information in connection with its own regulatory oversight activities.
 
 
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In addition to institution-wide accreditation, there are numerous specialized accrediting commissions that accredit specific programs or schools within their jurisdiction, many of which are in healthcare and professional fields. Accreditation of specific programs by one of these specialized accrediting commissions signifies that those programs have met the additional standards of those agencies. In addition to being accredited by the HLC at the institutional level, we also had the following specialized accreditations as of May 31, 2017:
 
Specialized or Programmatic Accreditation or Approval
 
Accrediting or Approving Body
Selected Business Degree Programs (Associate of Applied Science, Bachelor of Science, Master of Management, Master of Business Administration degrees)
 
International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education
Medical Laboratory Technician (Kansas City [Zona Rosa], Missouri campus)
 
National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences Serious Applicant Status
Health Information Technology (online program)
 
Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Initial Accreditation
Medical Assisting (Albuquerque, New Mexico; Austin, Texas; Bellevue, Nebraska; Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, and Roseville, Minnesota; Colorado Springs, and Centennial, Colorado; Independence, Kansas City [Zona Rosa], Missouri; Overland Park, and Wichita, Kansas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Tulsa, Oklahoma, campuses)
 
Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs on the recommendation of the Medical Assisting Education Review Board
Occupational Therapy Assistant (Centennial, Colorado and Independence, Missouri campuses)
 
Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education
Paralegal Studies (Rapid City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Burnsville, Roseville and Minnetonka, Minnesota, campuses)
 
American Bar Association
Pharmacy Technician (Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, and Roseville, Minnesota; Independence, Missouri; campuses)
 
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
Veterinary Technology (Rapid City, South Dakota campus)
 
Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities
Associate of Science Nursing Program (Kansas City (Zona Rosa), Missouri campus)
 
Missouri Board of Nursing Full Approval
Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (Albuquerque, New Mexico campus)
 
New Mexico Board of Nursing Initial Approval
Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (Bloomington, Minnesota campus)
 
Minnesota Board of Nursing Approval
Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (Rapid City, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota campuses)
 
South Dakota Board of Nursing Interim Approval
Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (Austin, Texas campus)
 
Texas Board of Nursing Initial Approval
Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Licensed Practical Nurse Bridge to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (Overland Park, and Wichita West, Kansas campuses)
 
Kansas State Board of Nursing Initial Approval
Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing Programs
 
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education Initial Accreditation
Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (Distance Learning)
 
South Dakota Board of Nursing Approval
Associate of Science in Nursing Program (Kansas City (Zona Rosa), Missouri campus)
 
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing Continuing Accreditation
Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (Distance Learning) (all states except Tennessee)
 
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education Initial Accreditation
 
 
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If we fail to satisfy the standards of any of these specialized accrediting commissions, we could lose the specialized accreditation for the affected programs, which could result in materially reduced student enrollments in those programs.
 
Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs
 
To be eligible to participate in Title IV programs, an institution must comply with specific requirements contained in the Higher Education Act and the regulations issued thereunder by the Department of Education. An institution must, among other things, be licensed or authorized to offer its educational programs by the state or states in which it is physically located (in our case, South Dakota, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) and maintain institutional accreditation by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education.
 
The substantial amount of federal funds disbursed to schools 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 educational institutions have caused Congress to require the Department of Education to exercise considerable regulatory oversight over for-profit educational institutions. As a result, for-profit educational institutions, including ours, are subject to extensive oversight and review. Because the Department of Education 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.
 
Significant factors relating to Title IV programs that could adversely affect us include the following:
 
Congressional Action. Congress must reauthorize the Higher Education Act on a periodic basis, usually every five to six years. The most recent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act occurred in August 2008, which means that the next reauthorization was due in 2013. Congress failed to pass a one-time reauthorization bill; therefore, an automatic one-year extension to December 2014 was established. In late 2014, Congress passed an extension to further delay reauthorization. Congress has taken actions required to continue to extend Title IV programs while a Higher Education Act reauthorization remains pending and the Title IV programs remain authorized and functioning. Congress must continue to pass legislation to extend the Act until a reauthorization can occur. We cannot predict when or whether Congress may reauthorize the Higher Education Act, but it is possible that Congress may work to either reauthorize the Higher Education Act in its entirety or pass a series of smaller bills that focus on individual parts of the Higher Education Act, primarily Title IV programs.
 
In addition, Congress must determine funding levels for Title IV programs on an annual basis and can change the laws governing Title IV programs at any time. Apart from Title IV programs, eligible veterans and military personnel may receive educational benefits for the pursuit of higher education. A reduction in federal funding levels for Title IV programs, or for programs providing educational benefits to veterans and military personnel, could reduce the ability of some students to finance their education. Any action by Congress that significantly reduces Title IV program funding or the ability of our students to participate in Title IV programs could have a material effect on our enrollments, business, financial condition and results of operations. Congressional action also may require us to modify our practices in ways that could increase administrative costs and reduce profit margins, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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Various Congressional hearings and roundtable discussions have been held, beginning in 2010, by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (“HELP Committee”) and other Congressional members and committees regarding various aspects of the education industry, including student debt, student recruiting, student outcomes and accreditation matters. In July 2012, the majority staff of the HELP Committee released a report analyzing information requested from 30 companies operating proprietary institutions (including us and other publicly traded companies providing proprietary postsecondary education services). While stating that proprietary colleges and universities have an important role to play in higher education and should be well-equipped to meet the needs of non-traditional students who now constitute the majority of the postsecondary educational population, the report was highly critical of these institutions. Further, in July 2014, the majority staff of the HELP Committee released a report claiming that eight of the ten top recipients of post-9/11 GI Bill funds are for-profit companies.
 
In recent years, various pieces of legislation has been proposed in Congress that, if adopted, would affect our business. For example, from time to time, legislation is introduced to make a proprietary institution ineligible to participate in Title IV programs if it derives more than 85% of its revenues from federal funds, including Title IV programs, revenues from the GI Bill and Department of Defense Tuition Assistance funds. Some legislation would also prohibit proprietary institutions, including us, from using federally-derived funds for marketing, advertising and recruiting expenses. This and similar proposals could be used as a basis of discussion during the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. We anticipate that reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will be a priority for the relevant Congressional committees during the 115th Congress, which began in January 2017. Any actions that change the requirements for our participation in Title IV programs or the amount of student financial aid for which our students are eligible could negatively impact our business.
 
Government-wide Focus on Proprietary Educational Institutions. In October 2014, the Department of Education announced an interagency task force composed of the Department of Education, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (the "FTC"), the U.S. Departments of Justice, Treasury and Veterans Affairs, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the "CFPB"), the SEC, and numerous state attorneys general. Attorneys general in several states have become more active in enforcing consumer protection laws, especially related to recruiting practices and the financing of education at proprietary educational institutions. In addition, several state attorneys general have recently partnered with the CFPB to review industry practices. The FTC has also recently issued civil investigative demands to several other U.S. proprietary educational institutions, which require the institutions to provide documents and information related to the advertising, marketing, or sale of secondary or postsecondary educational products or services, or educational accreditation products or services. If our past or current business practices are found to violate applicable consumer protection laws, or if we are found to have made misrepresentations to our current or prospective students about our educational programs, we could be subject to monetary fines or penalties and possible limitations on the manner in which we conduct our business, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. To the extent that more states or government agencies commence investigations, act in concert, or direct their focus on us, the cost of responding to these inquiries and investigations could increase significantly, and the potential impact on our business would be substantially greater.
 
In September 2015, President Obama announced the Department of Education’s launch of a revised “College Scorecard” website that provides access to national data on college costs, graduation rates, debt and post-college earnings, including data regarding NAU. In addition, in November 2015, the Department of Education issued comparative data regarding federally recognized accreditation agencies and the institutions they accredit, which include median debt, repayment rates, completion rates and median earnings. To the extent such data gives rise to negative perceptions of us, or of proprietary educational institutions generally, our reputation and business could be materially affected.
 
 
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U.S. Military Tuition Assistance. Service members of the United States Armed Forces are eligible to receive tuition assistance from their branch of service through the Uniform Tuition Assistance Program (the “tuition assistance program”) of the Department of Defense. Service members may use this tuition assistance to pursue postsecondary degrees at postsecondary institutions that are accredited by accrediting agencies that are recognized by the Department of Education. Each branch of the armed forces has established its own rules for the tuition assistance programs of the Department of Defense. Institutions cannot enroll service members under tuition assistance program unless they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which, among other things, requires an institution to agree to support Department of Defense regulatory guidance, adhere to a bill of rights that is specified in the regulations, and participate in the proposed Military Voluntary Education Review program. In addition, institutions must also agree to adhere to the principles and criteria established by the Service Members Opportunity Colleges Degree Network System regarding the transferability of credit and the awarding of credit for military training and experience.
 
In 2010, Congress and the Department of Defense increased their focus on Department of Defense tuition assistance that is used for distance education and programs at proprietary institutions. In 2012, President Obama issued an Executive Order regarding the establishment of “Principles of Excellence” for educational institutions receiving funding from the tuition assistance programs administered by the Department of Defense and veterans educational benefits programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The goals of the Principles of Excellence are broadly stated and relate to disclosures on costs and amounts of costs covered by federal educational benefits, marketing standards, state authorization, accreditation approvals, standard institutional refund policies, educational plans and academic and financial advising. In August 2013, the Department of Defense began incorporating the Principles of Excellence outlined in the President’s 2012 Executive Order into their current Memorandum of Understanding.
 
We cannot predict whether further focus on military tuition assistance will result in legislation or further rulemaking affecting our participation in Title IV programs. To the extent that any laws or regulations are adopted that limit our participation in Title IV programs or the amount of student financial aid for which the students at our institutions are eligible, our enrollments, revenues and results of operation could be materially affected.
 
Changes in Department of Education Regulations. As part of its negotiated rulemaking process, the Department of Education consults with members of the postsecondary education community to identify issues of concern and attempts to agree on proposed regulatory revisions to address those issues before formally proposing regulations. If the Department of Education and negotiators cannot reach consensus on the entire package of draft regulations, the Department of Education is authorized to propose regulations without being bound by any agreements made in the negotiation process.
 
 
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On November 1, 2016, the Department of Education published final regulations that, among other provisions, establish new standards and processes for determining whether a Direct Loan Program borrower has a defense to repayment (“Borrower Defense”) on a loan due to acts or omissions by the institution at which the loan was used by the borrower for educational expenses (the “Borrower Defense Proposed Rule”). These final regulations (the “Borrower Defense Final Rule”) were published with an effective date of July 1, 2017. Among other topics, the Borrower Defense Final Rule establishes permissible borrower defense claims for discharge, procedural rules under which claims will be adjudicated, time limits for borrowers’ claims, and guidelines for recoupment by the Department of Education of discharged loan amounts from institutions of higher education. The Borrower Defense Final Rule also prohibits schools from using any pre-dispute arbitration agreements, prohibits schools from prohibiting relief in the form of class actions by student borrowers, and invalidates clauses imposing requirements that students pursue and internal dispute resolution process before contacting authorities regarding concerns about an institution. For proprietary institutions, the Borrower Defense Final Rule describes the threshold for loan repayment rates that will require specific disclosures to current and prospective students and the applicable loan repayment rate methodology. The Borrower Defense Final Rule also establishes important new financial responsibility and administrative capacity requirements for both not-for-profit and for-profit institutions participating in the Title IV programs. For example, certain events would automatically trigger the need for a school to obtain a letter of credit, including for publicly traded institutions, if the SEC warns the school that it may suspend trading on the school’s stock the school failed to timely file a required annual or quarterly report with the SEC or the exchange on which the stock is traded notifies the school that it is not in compliance with exchange requirements or the stock is delisted. Other events would require a recalculation of an institution’s composite score of financial responsibility including, for a proprietary institution whose score is less than 1.5, any withdrawal of an owner’s equity by any means, including by declaring a dividend, unless the equity is transferred within the affiliated group on whose basis the composite score was calculated. The Borrower Defense Final Rule also sets forth events that are discretionary triggers for letters of credit, meaning that if any of them occur, the Department of Education may choose to require a letter of credit, increase an existing letter of credit requirement or demand some other form of surety from the institution. The Borrower Defense Final Rule provides that if an institution fails to meet the composite score requirement for longer than three years under provisional certification, the Department of Education may mandate additional financial protection from the institution or any party with "substantial control" over the institution. Such parties with "substantial control" must agree to jointly and severally guarantee the Title IV liabilities of the institution at the end of the three-year provisional certification period. Under current regulations, a party may be deemed to have "substantial control" over an institution if, among other factors, the party directly or indirectly holds an ownership interest of 25% or more of an institution, or is a member of the board of directors, a general partner, the chief executive officer or other executive officer of the institution. On June 15, 2017, the Department of Education announced an indefinite delay to its implementation of the Borrower Defense Final Rule, and on June 16, 2017 published a notice of intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to develop proposed revisions to the rule. On July 6, 2017, the attorneys general of 18 states and the District of Columbia filed suit against the Department of Education claiming that its delay of the Borrower Defense Final Rule violated applicable law, including the Administrative Procedure Act. We cannot predict with any certainty the outcome of that litigation, the extent to which a revised rule may differ from the previously promulgated Borrower Defense Final Rule, or the impact that such a revised rule might have on our business.
 
On December 19, 2016, the Department of Education published final regulations regarding state authorization for programs offered through distance education and state authorization for foreign locations of institutions. Among other provisions, these final regulations require that an institution participating in the Title IV federal student aid programs and offering postsecondary education through distance education be authorized by each state in which the institution enrolls students, if such authorization is required by the state. The Department of Education would recognize authorization through participation in a state authorization reciprocity agreement, if the agreement does not prevent a state from enforcing its own laws. The final regulations also require that foreign additional locations and branch campuses be authorized by the appropriate foreign government agency and, if at least 50% of a program can be completed at the location/branch, be approved by the institution’s accrediting agency and be reported to the state where the main campus is located. The final regulations would also require institutions to: document the state process for resolving complaints from students enrolled in programs offered through distance education or correspondence courses; and make certain public and individualized disclosures to enrolled and prospective students about their distance education programs. These final regulations are effective July 1, 2018. We cannot predict with certainty impact that such regulations might have on our business.
 
 
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On June 22, 2017, the Department of Education announced that in accordance with Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” it is seeking public comment on regulations that may be “appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.” Any regulations that reduce or eliminate our students’ access to Title IV program funds, that require us to change or eliminate programs or that increase our costs of compliance could have an adverse effect on our business.
 
Gainful Employment. Under the Higher Education Act, proprietary schools generally are eligible to participate in Title IV programs in respect of educational programs that lead to “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”
 
On October 31, 2014, the Department of Education published final regulations to define “gainful employment” which became effective on July 1, 2015. Historically, the concept of “gainful employment” has not been defined in detail. The gainful employment regulations require each educational program offered by a proprietary institution to achieve threshold rates in two debt measure categories: an annual debt-to-annual earnings (“DTE”) ratio and an annual debt-to-discretionary income (“DTI”) ratio.
 
The ratios are calculated under complex methodologies and definitions outlined in the final regulations and, in some cases, are based on data that may not be readily accessible to us. The DTE ratio is calculated by comparing (i) the annual loan payment required on the median student loan debt incurred by students receiving Title IV Program funds who completed a particular program and (ii) the higher of the mean or median of those students’ annual earnings approximately two to four years after they graduate. The DTI ratio is calculated by comparing (x) the annual loan payment required on the median student loan debt incurred by students receiving Title IV Program funds who completed a particular program and (y) the higher of the mean or median of those students’ discretionary income approximately two to four years after they graduate.
 
An educational program must achieve a DTE ratio at or below 8%, or a DTI ratio at or below 20%, to be considered “passing.” An educational program with a DTE ratio greater than 8% but less than or equal to 12%, or a DTI ratio greater than 20% but less than or equal to 30%, is considered to be “in the zone.” An educational program with a DTE ratio greater than 12% and a DTI ratio greater than 30% is considered “failing.” An educational program will cease to be eligible for students to receive Title IV Program funds if its DTE and DTI ratios are failing in two out of any three consecutive award years or if both of those rates are failing or in the zone for four consecutive award.
 
 
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The gainful employment regulations also require an institution to provide warnings to current and prospective students in programs which may lose Title IV eligibility at the end of an award or fiscal year. If an educational program could become ineligible based on its ratios for the next award year, the institution must: (1) deliver a warning to current and prospective students in the program and (2) not enroll, register or enter into a financial commitment with a prospective student until three business days after the warning is provided or a subsequent warning is provided if more than thirty days have passed since the first warning. If a program becomes ineligible for students to receive Title IV program funds, the institution cannot seek to reestablish eligibility of that program, or establish the eligibility of a similar program having the same classification of instructional program (“CIP”) code with the same first four digits of the CIP code of the ineligible program for three years.
 
Additionally, the gainful employment regulations require an institution to certify to the Department of Education that its educational programs subject to the regulations, which include all programs offered by NAU, meet the applicable requirements for graduates to be professionally or occupationally licensed or certified in the state in which the institution is located. If we are unable to certify that our programs meet the applicable state requirements for graduates to be professionally or occupationally certified in that state, then we may need to cease offering certain programs in certain states or to students who are residents in certain states.
 
In January 2017, the Department of Education issued to institutions final debt-to-earnings rates for the first gainful employment debt measurement year. According to those final rates, two of our programs, one of which is no longer enrolling students, are failing. The ongoing program, the Associates degree in Medical Assisting, represents approximately 5% of our total student population. In addition we have five programs in the “zone”, one of which is no longer enrolling students. We continue to evaluate making changes to our educational program offerings as a result of gainful employment regulations. We have suspended enrollment in the Associates of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology program and plan to phase out the program by 2018. We have developed a Medical Assisting diploma program to address the need for a shorter, more cost-effective, program. In addition, two programs, the Associates of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technology and the Associates of Applied Science in Therapeutic Massage have been discontinued and students enrolled in those programs are in the process of being taught out.
 
The failure of any program or programs offered by NAU to satisfy any gainful employment regulations could render that program or programs ineligible for Title IV program funds. If a particular educational program ceased to become eligible for Title IV program funds, either because it fails to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation or due to other factors, we may choose to cease offering that program. We also could be required to make changes to certain programs or to increase student loan repayment efforts in order to comply with the rule or to avoid the uncertainty associated with such compliance.
 
On June 16, 2017, the Department of Education published a notice of intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to develop proposed revisions to the gainful employment regulations. We cannot predict with any certainty the outcome of that future negotiated rulemaking or the extent to which revised gainful employment regulations may differ from the current regulations. On July 5, 2017 the Department of Education further announced that it would allow additional time, until July 1, 2018, for institutions to comply with certain disclosure requirements in the gainful employment regulations. Continued compliance with the gainful employment regulations could increase our cost of doing business, reduce our enrollments and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
 
 
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Incentive Compensation. Under the Higher Education Act, an educational institution that participates in Title IV programs may not make any commission, bonus or other incentive payments to any persons or entities involved in recruitment or admissions activities or in the awarding of financial aid. The statutory prohibition against incentive compensation applies to any person engaged in student recruitment or admissions activities or in making financial aid award decisions, and any higher level employees with responsibility for such activities. Since July 1, 2011 the Department of Education’s implementing regulations have effectively deemed any commission, bonus, or other incentive compensation based in any part, directly or indirectly, on securing enrollment or awarding financial aid to be inconsistent with the statutory prohibition against incentive compensation payments The Department of Education also issued a “Dear Colleague” letter in March 2011 providing additional guidance regarding the scope of the prohibition on incentive compensation and to what employees and types of activities the prohibition applies. The July 1, 2011 revisions to the Department of Education’s regulations required us to change our compensation practices and has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the rate at which students enroll in our programs and on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
Whistleblower Claims. In recent years, several for-profit education companies have been faced with whistleblower lawsuits under the Federal False Claims Act, known as “qui tam” cases, by current or former employees alleging violations of the prohibition against incentive compensation. In such cases, the whistleblower’s claims are reviewed under seal by the Department of Justice for potential intervention. If the Department of Justice elects to intervene, it assumes primary control over the litigation. These types of claims against for-profit educational companies, and the Department of Justice’s interest in intervention, are expected to increase in the future. If the Department of Education were to determine that we violated any requirement of Title IV programs, or if we were to be found liable in a False Claims action, or if any third parties we have engaged were to violate this law, we could be fined or sanctioned by the Department of Education or subjected to other monetary liability or penalties that could be substantial, including the possibility of treble damages under a False Claims action, any of which could harm our reputation, impose significant costs and have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
State Authorization. To be eligible to participate in Title IV programs, an institution must be licensed or authorized to offer its educational programs by the states in which it is physically located, in accordance with the Department of Education’s regulations. The Department of Education’s regulations require that institutions demonstrate specific state authorization to operate educational programs beyond secondary education and clarify what is required for an institution to be considered “legally authorized” in a state for purpose of participation in Title IV programs. Specifically, the Department of Education considers an institution to be legally authorized by a state if the state has a process, applicable to all institutions except tribal and federal institutions, to review and appropriately act on complaints concerning the institution and to enforce applicable state laws, and the institution further satisfies one of the following requirements:
 
 
the state establishes the institution by name as an educational institution by charter, statute, constitutional provision or other action issued by an appropriate state agency or state entity, and the institution is authorized to operate educational programs beyond secondary education, including programs leading to a certificate or degree;
 
 
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the institution complies with applicable state approval or licensure requirements, except that a state may exempt an institution from any such requirement based on (1) the institution’s accreditation by one or more accrediting agencies recognized by the Department of Education or (2) the institution being in operation for at least 20 years; and
 
 
the state has a process, applicable to all institutions except federal and tribal institutions, to review and appropriately act on complaints concerning the institution and applicable state laws.
 
We operate physical facilities offering educational programs in South Dakota, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. In each of these states, we maintain the required authorizations to offer our educational programs under state law.
 
Where required under applicable law, these authorizations from state educational agencies are very important to us. To maintain requisite state authorizations, we are required to continuously meet standards relating to, among other things, educational programs, facilities, instructional and administrative staff, marketing and recruitment, financial operations, addition of new locations and educational programs and various operational and administrative procedures. Failure to comply with applicable requirements of the state educational agencies in South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas could result in us losing our authorization to offer educational programs in those states. If that were to occur, the applicable state educational agency could force us to cease operations in that state. Even if the applicable state educational agency does not require the university to cease operations on an immediate basis, the loss of authorization by the state educational agency in such state would then cause our campuses in such state to lose eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, and such loss of Title IV program eligibility could force us to cease operations in such state. Alternatively, the state educational licensing agencies could restrict our ability to offer certain degree programs. Additionally, if the Department of Education were to determine that our authorizations in South Dakota, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas did not satisfy the Department of Education’s state authorization requirements, the campuses in the relevant states could lose their eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, and such loss of Title IV program eligibility could force us to cease operations in such state.
 
As described above under “Changes in Department of Education Regulations,” the Department of Education published final regulations regarding state authorization for programs offered through distance education and state authorization for foreign locations of institutions. Among other provisions, these final regulations require that an institution participating in the Title IV federal student aid programs and offering postsecondary education through distance education be authorized by each state in which the institution enrolls students, if such authorization is required by state. Independent of this matter of federal regulation, several states have jurisdiction over educational institutions offering online programs that have no physical location or other presence in the state. The institution may be enrolling or offering educational services to students who reside in the state, conducting practica or sponsoring internships in the state, employing faculty who reside in the state or advertising or recruiting prospective students in the state. Thus, our activities in certain states constitute a presence requiring licensure or authorization under requirements of state educational agency law, regulation, or policy, even though we do not have a physical facility in such states. Therefore, in addition to the states where we maintain physical facilities, we have either obtained or are currently in the process of obtaining approvals or exemptions that we believe are necessary because they may constitute a presence requiring state licensure or authorization based on the laws, rules or regulations of that state. Notwithstanding our efforts to obtain approvals or exemptions, state regulatory requirements for online education vary among the states, are not well developed in many states, are imprecise or unclear in some states and can change frequently. Because we enroll students in online programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we expect that regulatory authorities in other states where we are not currently licensed or authorized may request that we seek additional licenses or authorizations for these institutions in their states in the future. In recent years several states have voluntarily entered into State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (“SARA”) that establish standards for interstate offering of post-secondary distance education courses and programs. If an institution’s home state participates in SARA and authorizes the institution to provide distance education in accordance with SARA standards, then the institution need not obtain additional authorizations for distance education from any other SARA member state. The SARA participation requirements and process are administered by the four regional higher education compacts in the United States (the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, the New England Board of Higher Education, the Southern Regional Education Board and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) and are overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. NAU is approved to participate in SARA, through the SARA Coordinator of the South Dakota Board of Regents as a state portal agency with its most recent approval effective from April 18, 2017 through April 17, 2018.
 
 
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If we fail to comply with state licensing or authorization requirements for a state, or fail to obtain licenses or authorizations when required, we could lose state licensure or authorization by that state, which could prohibit us from recruiting prospective students or offering services to current students in that state. We could also be subject to other sanctions, including restrictions on activities in that state, fines, and penalties. We review the licensure requirements of other states when we believe that it is appropriate to determine whether our activities in those states may constitute a presence or otherwise may require licensure or authorization by the respective state education agencies. New laws, regulations or interpretations related to offering educational programs online could increase our cost of doing business and affect our ability to recruit students in particular states, which could, in turn, adversely affect our enrollments and revenues and have a material effect on our business.
 
Misrepresentation. An institution participating in Title IV programs is prohibited from making misrepresentations regarding the nature of its educational programs, the nature of financial charges and availability of financial assistance, or the employability of graduates. A misrepresentation is defined in the regulations as any false, erroneous, or misleading statement to any student or prospective student, any member of the public, an accrediting agency, a state agency or the Department of Education. Furthermore, under the Borrower Defense Final Rule, the Department of Education expanded its misrepresentation regulations to prohibit omissions of information and statements with a likelihood or tendency to mislead under the circumstances. The Borrower Defense Final Rule is discussed in more detail in “Item I – Business – Regulatory Matters – Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs – Changes in Department of Education Regulations.” If we – or any entity, organization, or person with whom we have an agreement to provide educational programs or to provide marketing, advertising, recruiting, or admissions services – commit a misrepresentation for which a person could reasonably be expected to rely, or has reasonably relied, to that person’s detriment, the Department of Education could initiate proceedings to revoke our institutions’ Title IV eligibility, deny applications made by our institutions, impose fines, or initiate a limitation, suspension or termination proceeding against us. Further, although the Department of Education claims not to have created any private right of action, the misrepresentation regulations could increase risk of qui tam actions under the False Claims Act.
 
Clery Act. On October 20, 2014, the Department of Education published final regulations implementing changes to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 U.S.C. § 1092(f)), or the Clery Act, required by March 2013 amendments to the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. The final regulations became effective July 1, 2015. Among other things, VAWA and the revised Clery Act regulations require institutions to compile statistics on additional categories of crimes reported to campus security authorities or local police agencies, to implement ongoing crime awareness and prevention programs for students and employees, and to ensure that institutional disciplinary proceedings for certain enumerated crimes meet specific standards.
 
 
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Eligibility and certification procedures. Each institution must apply periodically to the Department of Education for continued certification to participate in Title IV programs. Such recertification generally is required every six years, but may be required earlier, including when an institution undergoes a change in control. An institution may also come under the Department of Education’s review when it expands its activities in certain ways, such as opening an additional location, adding a new educational program, or modifying the academic credentials it offers. The Department of Education may place an institution on provisional certification status if it finds that the institution does not fully satisfy all eligibility and certification standards and in certain other circumstances, such as when an institution is certified for the first time or undergoes a change in control. During the period of provisional certification, the institution must comply with any additional conditions included in the school’s program participation agreement with the Department of Education. In addition, the Department of Education may more closely review an institution that is provisionally certified if it applies for recertification or approval to open a new location, add an educational program, acquire another school, or make any other significant change. If the Department of Education 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 without advance notice or opportunity for the institution to challenge the action. Students attending provisionally certified institutions remain eligible to receive Title IV program funds. Our current certification to participate in the Title IV programs, which is not provisional, was effective in June 2013 and extends through March 31, 2019.
 
Administrative capability. Department of Education regulations specify extensive criteria by which an institution must establish that it has the requisite “administrative capability” to participate in Title IV programs. To meet the administrative capability standards, an institution must, among other things:
 
        
comply with all applicable Title IV program requirements;
 
 
have an adequate number of qualified personnel to administer Title IV programs;
 
 
have acceptable standards for measuring the satisfactory academic progress of its students;
 
 
not have student loan cohort default rates above specified levels;

 
have various procedures in place for awarding, disbursing and safeguarding Title IV program funds and for maintaining required records;
 
 
administer Title IV programs with adequate checks and balances in its system of internal controls;
 
        
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 Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General any credible information indicating that any student, parent, employee, third- party servicer or other agent of the institution has engaged in any fraud or other illegal conduct involving Title IV programs;
 
 
submit all required reports and financial statements in a timely manner; and
 
 
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not otherwise appear to lack administrative capability.
 
If an institution fails to satisfy any of these criteria, the Department of Education may:
 
 
require the institution to repay Title IV funds its students previously received;
 
        
transfer the institution from the advance method of payment of Title IV funds to heightened cash monitoring status or the reimbursement method of payment;
 
 
place the institution on provisional certification status; or
 
 
commence a proceeding to impose a fine or to limit, suspend or terminate the institution’s participation in Title IV programs.
 
If the Department of Education determines that we failed to satisfy its administrative capability requirements, then our students could lose, or be limited in their access to, Title IV program funding.
 
Financial responsibility. The Higher Education Act and Department of Education regulations establish extensive standards of financial responsibility that institutions such as us must satisfy to participate in Title IV programs. The Department of Education evaluates institutions for compliance with these standards on an annual basis based on the institution’s annual audited financial statements as well as when the institution applies to the Department of Education to have its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs recertified. The most significant financial responsibility standard is the institution’s composite score, which is derived from a formula established by the Department of Education based on three financial ratios:
 
 
equity ratio, which measures the institution’s capital resources, financial viability and ability to borrow;
 
 
primary reserve ratio, which measures the institution’s ability to support current operations from expendable resources; and
 
 
net income ratio, which measures the institution’s ability to operate at a profit or within its means.
 
The Department of Education assigns a strength factor to the results of each of these ratios on a scale from negative 1.0 to positive 3.0, with negative 1.0 reflecting financial weakness and positive 3.0 reflecting financial strength. The Department of Education then assigns a weighting percentage to each ratio and adds the weighted scores for the three ratios together to produce a composite score for the institution. The composite score must be at least 1.5 for the institution to be deemed financially responsible without the need for further Department of Education oversight. In addition to having an acceptable composite score, an institution must, among other things, provide the administrative resources necessary to comply with Title IV program requirements, meet all of its financial obligations including required refunds to students and any Title IV liabilities and debts, be current in its debt payments and not receive an adverse, qualified or disclaimed opinion by its accountants in its audited financial statements.
 
If the Department of Education determines that an institution does not meet the financial responsibility standards due to a failure to meet the composite score or other factors, the institution should be able to establish financial responsibility on an alternative basis permitted by the Department of Education. This alternative basis could include, in the Department of Education’s discretion, posting a letter of credit, accepting provisional certification, complying with additional Department of Education monitoring requirements, agreeing to receive Title IV program funds under an arrangement other than the Department of Education’s standard advance funding arrangement, such as the reimbursement method of payment or heightened cash monitoring, or complying with or accepting other limitations on the institution’s ability to increase the number of programs it offers or the number of students it enrolls.
 
 
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Our audited financial statements for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017 and May 31, 2016 indicated our composite scores for such fiscal years were 1.8 and 1.8, respectively, which are sufficient to be deemed financially responsible under the Department of Education’s requirements. If we are unable to meet the minimum composite score or comply with the other standards of financial responsibility, and could not post a required letter of credit or comply with the alternative bases for establishing financial responsibility, then our students could lose their access to Title IV program funding.
 
Additionally, as part of the Borrower Defense Final Rule, the Department of Education revised its general standards of financial responsibility to include various actions and events that would require institutions to provide the Department of Education with irrevocable letters of credit. For additional information regarding this proposed rule, see “Item 1 – Business – Regulatory Matters –Changes in Department of Education Regulations.”
 
Return of Title IV funds for students who withdraw. When a student who has received Title IV funds withdraws from school, the institution must determine the amount of Title IV program funds the student has “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 has earned is equal to a pro rata portion of the funds the student received or for which the student would otherwise be eligible. If the student withdraws after the 60% threshold, then the student is deemed to have earned 100% of the Title IV program funds he or she received. The institution must then return the unearned Title IV program funds to the appropriate lender or the Department of Education in a timely manner, which is generally no later than 45 days after the date the institution determined that the student withdrew. If such payments are not timely made, the institution will be required to submit a letter of credit to the Department of Education equal to 25% of the Title IV funds that the institution should have returned for withdrawn students in its most recently completed fiscal year. Under Department of Education regulations, late returns of Title IV program funds for 5% or more of the withdrawn students in the audit sample in the institution’s annual Title IV compliance audit for either of the institution’s two most recent fiscal years or in a Department of Education program review triggers this letter of credit requirement. NAU did not exceed this 5% threshold in our annual Title IV compliance audit for either of our two most recent fiscal years.
 
The “90/10” Rule. A requirement of the Higher Education Act, commonly referred to as the “90/10 Rule,” provides that an institution will be placed on provisional certification and may be subject to other conditions from the Department of Education if, under a complex regulatory formula that requires cash basis accounting and other adjustments to the calculation of revenue, the institution derives more than 90% of its revenues for any fiscal year from Title IV program funds, and, further, the institution is subject to loss of eligibility to participate in Title IV programs if it exceeds the 90% threshold for two consecutive fiscal years. This rule applies only to for-profit postsecondary educational institutions, including NAU.
 
Using the Department of Education’s formula under the 90/10 Rule, for the 2017, 2016 and 2015 fiscal years, we derived approximately 82.6%, 86.8% and 89.2%, respectively, of our revenues (calculated on a cash basis) from Title IV program funds. Our fiscal year 2017 cash-payment and non-Title IV student enrollment increased from that of fiscal year 2016, while our Title IV enrollment dropped. This was the primary cause of the drop in percentage from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2017. Increased military funding, as well of increased workforce development revenue, also contributed to our decrease in percentage. Recent changes in federal law that increased Title IV grant and loan limits, and any additional increases in the future, may result in an increase in the revenues NAU receives from Title IV programs, which could make it more difficult for us to satisfy the 90/10 Rule. In addition, economic downturns that adversely affect students’ employment circumstances could also increase their reliance on Title IV programs. Furthermore, from time to time, legislation is introduced that would make a proprietary institution ineligible to participate in Title IV programs if it derives more than 85% of its revenues from federal funds, including Title IV programs, revenues from the GI Bill and Department of Defense Tuition Assistance funds. We are exploring the feasibility of various potential measures that would be intended to reduce the percentage of NAU’s cash basis revenue attributable under the 90/10 Rule to Title IV Program funds. Among other things, we expect to expand our non-Title IV education programming.
 
 
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Student loan defaults. Under the Higher Education Act, an educational institution may lose its eligibility to participate in some or all Title IV programs if defaults by its students on the repayment of loans received through either the Federal Family Education Loan (“FFEL”) Program or the Federal Direct Loan programs exceed certain levels. For each federal fiscal year, the Department of Education calculates a rate of student defaults on such loans for each institution, known as a “cohort default rate.” An institution’s cohort default rate for a federal fiscal year is calculated by determining the rate at which borrowers that became subject to their repayment obligation in that federal fiscal year defaulted by the end of the following federal fiscal year. Before July 1, 2010, we participated in both the FFEL and Federal Direct Loan programs. As of July 1, 2010, following the elimination of the FFEL program under federal law, we participate only in the Federal Direct Loan program. Defaults by students on the repayment of loans received through the FFEL program still will be counted; however, in the calculation to determine our eligibility to participate in the Federal Direct Loan program.
 
If the Department of Education notifies an institution that its cohort default rates for each of the three most recent federal fiscal years are 30% or greater, the institution’s participation in the Federal Direct Loan and Pell Grant programs ends 30 days after that notification, unless the institution appeals the determination in a timely manner on specified grounds and according to specified procedures. In addition, an institution’s participation in the Federal Direct Loan programs ends 30 days after notification by the Department of Education that the institution’s most recent 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 either of these provisions may not participate in the Federal Direct Loan and Pell Grant programs, as applicable, for the remainder of the fiscal year in which the institution receives the notification and for the next two federal fiscal years.
 
If an institution’s cohort default rate equals or exceeds 30% in any single federal fiscal year or any subsequent fiscal year, the institution may be placed on provisional certification status. Provisional certification does not limit an institution’s access to Title IV program funds, but it does subject an institution to closer review by the Department of Education if the institution applies for recertification or approval to open a new location, add an educational program, acquire another school or make any other significant change. Additionally, the Department of Education may revoke the certification of a provisionally-certified institution without advance notice if the Department of Education determines that the institution is not fulfilling material Title IV program requirements. We were approved to participate in the FFEL program before its expiration on July 1, 2010, and we currently are approved to participate in the Federal Direct Loan program. The potential sanctions discussed in this section are based on the combined cohort default rate for loans issued to students under both the FFEL program and the Federal Direct Loan program.
 
The Department of Education generally publishes draft cohort default rates in February of each year for the repayment period that ended the prior September 30. Draft cohort default rates do not result in sanctions, are subject to subsequent data corrections and appeals by an institution, and can change between their issuance to institutions and the Department of Education’s release of official cohort default rates, which are typically issued annually in September. Our official cohort default rates for federal fiscal years 2013, 2012 and 2011 are 23.4%, 20.6% and 21.4%, respectively. The draft cohort rate for federal fiscal year 2014 is 24.3%.
 
 
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Compliance reviews. We are subject to announced and unannounced compliance reviews and audits by various external agencies, including the Department of Education, its Office of Inspector General, institutional and programmatic accreditors, state licensing agencies, agencies that have previously guaranteed FFEL loans, various state approving agencies for financial assistance to veterans and accrediting commissions. As part of the Department of Education’s ongoing monitoring of institutions’ administration of Title IV programs, the Higher Education Act also requires institutions to annually submit to the Department of Education a Title IV compliance audit conducted by an independent certified public accountant in accordance with applicable federal and Department of Education audit standards. In addition, to enable the Department of Education to make a determination of an institution’s financial responsibility, each institution must annually submit audited financial statements prepared in accordance with Department of Education regulations.
 
Privacy of student records. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, or FERPA, and the Department of Education’s FERPA regulations require educational institutions to protect the privacy of students’ educational records by limiting an institution’s disclosure of a student’s personally identifiable information without the student’s prior written consent. FERPA also requires institutions to allow students to review and request changes to their educational records maintained by the institution, to notify students at least annually of this inspection right and to maintain records in each student’s file listing requests for access to and disclosures of personally identifiable information and the interest of such party in that information. If an institution fails to comply with FERPA, the Department of Education may require corrective actions by the institution or may terminate an institution’s receipt of further federal funds. In addition, educational institutions are obligated to safeguard student information pursuant to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or GLBA, a federal law designed to protect consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions and other entities that provide financial services to consumers. GLBA and the applicable GLBA regulations require an institution to, among other things, develop and maintain a comprehensive, written information security program designed to protect against the unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable financial information of students, parents or other individuals with whom such institution has a customer relationship. If an institution fails to comply with the applicable GLBA requirements, it may be required to take corrective actions, be subject to monitoring and oversight by the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, and be subject to fines or penalties imposed by the FTC. For-profit educational institutions are also subject to the general deceptive practices jurisdiction of the FTC with respect to their collection, use and disclosure of student information. The institution must also comply with the FTC Red Flags Rule, a section of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, that requires the establishment of guidelines and policies regarding identity theft related to student credit accounts.
 
 
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Potential effect of regulatory violations. If we fail to comply with the regulatory standards governing Title IV programs, the Department of Education could impose one or more sanctions, including transferring NAU to the reimbursement or cash monitoring method of payment, requiring us to repay Title IV program funds, requiring us to post a letter of credit in favor of the Department of Education as a condition for continued Title IV certification, taking emergency action against us, initiating proceedings to impose a fine or to limit, suspend or terminate our participation in Title IV programs or referring the matter for civil or criminal prosecution. If such sanctions or proceedings were imposed against us and resulted in a substantial curtailment or termination of our participation in Title IV programs, our enrollments, revenues and results of operations could be materially affected.
 
In addition to the actions that may be brought against us as a result of our participation in Title IV programs, we are also subject to complaints and lawsuits relating to regulatory compliance brought not only by regulatory agencies, but also by other government agencies and third parties, such as current or former students or employees and other members of the public.
 
Regulatory Standards that May Restrict Institutional Expansion or Other Changes
 
Many actions that we may wish to take in connection with expanding our operations or other changes are subject to review or approval by the applicable regulatory agencies.
 
Adding teaching locations, implementing new educational programs and increasing enrollment. The requirements and standards of state education agencies, accrediting commissions and the Department of Education limit our ability in certain instances to establish additional teaching locations, implement new educational programs or increase enrollment in certain programs. Many states require review and approval before institutions can add new locations or programs. The state educational agencies, the HLC and the specialized accrediting commissions that authorize or accredit us and our programs generally require institutions to notify them in advance of adding new locations or implementing new programs, and upon notification may undertake a review of the quality of the facility or the program and the financial, academic, and other qualifications of the institution.
 
As a condition for an institution to participate in Title IV programs on a provisional basis, the Department of Education can require prior approval of such programs or otherwise restrict the number of programs an institution may add or the extent to which an institution can modify existing educational programs. If an institution that is required to obtain the Department of Education’s advance approval for the addition of a new program or new location fails to do so, the institution may be liable for repayment of the Title IV program funds received by the institution or students in connection with that program or enrolled at that location. Additionally, any delay in obtaining a required Department of Education approval could delay the introduction of the program, which could negatively impact our enrollment growth.
 
Provisional certification. Each institution must apply to the Department of Education for continued certification to participate in Title IV programs at least every six years and when it undergoes a change in control. An institution may also come under the Department of Education’s review when it expands its activities in certain ways, such as opening an additional location, adding an educational program or modifying the academic credentials that it offers.
 
The Department of Education 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. In addition, if a company acquires a school from another entity, the acquired school will automatically be placed on provisional certification when the Department of Education approves the transaction. During the period of provisional certification, the institution must comply with any additional conditions or restrictions included in its program participation agreement with the Department of Education. Students attending provisionally certified institutions remain eligible to receive Title IV program funds, but if the Department of Education finds 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 without advance notice or advance opportunity for the institution to challenge that action. In addition, the Department of Education may more closely review an institution that is provisionally certified if it applies for recertification or approval to open a new location, add an educational program, acquire another school or make any other significant change.
 
 
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Acquiring other schools. While we have not acquired any other schools in the past, we may seek to do so in the future. The Department of Education and virtually all state education agencies and accrediting commissions require a company to obtain their approval if it wishes to acquire another school. The level of review varies by individual state and accrediting commission, with some requiring approval of such an acquisition before it occurs while others only consider approval after the acquisition has occurred. The approval of the applicable state education agencies and accrediting commissions is a necessary prerequisite to the Department of Education certifying the acquired school to participate in Title IV programs. The restrictions imposed by any of the applicable regulatory agencies could delay or prevent our acquisition of other schools in some circumstances.
 
 On July 21, 2017, we entered into an agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Henley-Putnam University ("H-PU"), a for-profit, postsecondary educational institution that offers 100% online programs focused in the field of strategic security and does not participate in Title IV Programs. The closing of this transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, as well as the receipt of necessary approvals from various regulatory and accrediting bodies, including the Higher Learning Commission. If the closing conditions are satisfied, the transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of our fiscal year 2018. The transaction does not contemplate the continued operation of HPU as a stand-alone postsecondary institution following the closing of the transaction. Rather, upon the closing of the transaction. HPU's educational programs are anticipated to become part of NAU's degree and certificate program offerings. Subsequent to the transaction closing date, we will require approval from the Department of Education in order to disburse Title IV program funds to students in the acquired programs.
 
Change in ownership resulting in a change in control. Many states and accrediting commissions require institutions of higher education to report or obtain approval of certain changes in control and changes in other aspects of institutional organization or control. The types of and thresholds for such reporting and approval vary among the states and accrediting commissions. The HLC provides that an institution must obtain its approval in advance of a change in control, structure, or organization for the institution to retain its accredited status. In addition, in the event of a change in control, structure, or organization, the HLC requires a post-transaction focused visit or other evaluation to review the appropriateness of its approval of the change and whether the institution has met the commitment it made to the HLC prior to the approval. Other specialized accrediting commissions also require an institution to obtain similar approval before or after the event that constitutes a change in control under their standards.
 
Many states include the transfer of a controlling interest of common stock in the definition of a change in control requiring approval, but their thresholds for determining a change in control vary widely. A change in control under the definition of one state educational agency that regulates us might require us to obtain approval of the change in control to maintain authorization to operate in that state, and in some cases such states could require us to obtain advance approval of the change in control.
 
Under Department of Education regulations, an institution that undergoes a change in control loses its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs and must apply to the Department of Education to reestablish such eligibility. If an institution files the required application and follows other procedures, the Department of Education may temporarily certify the institution on a provisional basis following the change in control, so that the institution’s students retain access to Title IV program funds until the Department of Education completes its full review. In addition, the Department of Education will extend such temporary provisional certification if the institution timely files other required materials, including the approval of the change in control by its state authorizing agency and accrediting commission and an audited balance sheet showing the financial condition of the institution or its parent corporation as of the date of the change in control. If the institution fails to meet any of these applications and other deadlines, its certification will expire and its students will not be eligible to receive Title IV program funds until the Department of Education completes its full review, which commonly takes several months and may take longer. If the Department of Education approves the application after a change in control, it will certify the institution on a provisional basis for a period of up to approximately three years.
 
 
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Any failure by us to comply with the requirements of the Department of Education, the HLC or the state educational agencies from which we have a license or authorization, or a failure to obtain their approval of the change in control, could result in loss of authorization, accreditation, or eligibility to participate in Title IV programs and cause a significant decline in our student enrollments.
 
A change in control also could occur as a result of future transactions in which we are involved. Some corporate reorganizations and some changes in the board of directors are examples of such transactions. In addition, Department of Education regulations provide that a change in control occurs for a publicly traded corporation if either: (a) there is an event that would obligate the corporation to file a Current Report on Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosing a change in control, or (b) the corporation has a stockholder that owns at least 25% of the total outstanding voting stock of the corporation and is the largest stockholder of the corporation, and that stockholder ceases to own at least 25% of such stock or ceases to be the largest stockholder. These standards are subject to interpretation by the Department of Education. A significant purchase or disposition of our voting stock in the future, including a disposition of our voting stock by Robert Buckingham’s partnership or living trust, could be determined by the Department of Education to be a change in control under this standard. The potential adverse effects of a change in control could influence future decisions by us and our stockholders regarding the sale, purchase, transfer, issuance or redemption of stock. In addition, the adverse regulatory effect of a change in control also could discourage bids for our common stock and could have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
 
Item 1A. Risk Factors.
 
The following risk factors and other information included in this Form 10-K should be carefully considered. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe are not material may also adversely affect our business, financial condition, operating results, cash flows and prospects.
 
Risks Related to the Extensive Regulation of our Business
 
If we fail to comply with the extensive regulatory requirements governing our university, we could incur significant monetary liabilities, fines and penalties, including loss of access to federal student loans and grants for our students, on which we are substantially dependent.
 
For our fiscal year ended May 31, 2017, we derived approximately 82.6% of our revenues (calculated on a cash basis) from federal student financial aid programs, known as Title IV programs, administered by the United States Department of Education, or the Department of Education. A significant percentage of our students rely on the availability of Title IV program funds to finance their cost of attending NAU. To participate in Title IV programs, a postsecondary institution must be authorized by the appropriate state education agency or agencies, be accredited by an accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education, and be certified as an eligible institution by the Department of Education. In addition, NAU’s operations and programs are regulated by other state education agencies and additional accrediting commissions. We are subject to extensive regulation by the education agencies of multiple states, the HLC, which is our institutional accrediting commission, various specialized accrediting commissions, and the Department of Education. These regulatory requirements cover the vast majority of our operations, including our educational programs, instructional and administrative staff, administrative procedures, marketing, student recruiting and admissions, and financial operations. These regulatory requirements also affect our ability to open additional schools and locations, add new educational programs, change existing educational programs and change our ownership structure.
 
The agencies and commissions that regulate our operations periodically revise their requirements and modify their interpretations of existing requirements. Regulatory requirements are not always precise and clear, and regulatory agencies may sometimes disagree with the way we interpret or apply these requirements. Any misinterpretation by us of regulatory requirements could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If we fail to comply with any of these regulatory requirements, we could suffer financial penalties, limitations on our operations, loss of accreditation, termination of or limitations on our ability to grant degrees and certificates, or limitations on or termination of our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, each of which could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, if we are charged with regulatory violations, our reputation could be damaged, which could have a negative impact on our enrollments and materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. We cannot predict with certainty how all of these regulatory requirements will be applied, or whether we will be able to comply with all of the applicable requirements in the future.
 
 
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If we lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs for any reason, we would experience a dramatic and adverse decline in revenue, financial condition, results of operations and future growth prospects. Furthermore, we would be unable to continue our business as it currently is conducted, which would be expected to have a material effect on our ability to continue as a going concern.
 
Congress may revise the laws governing Title IV programs or reduce funding for those programs which could reduce our enrollment and revenue and increase costs of operations.
 
Political and budgetary concerns significantly affect Title IV programs. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, which is a federal law that governs Title IV programs, must be periodically reauthorized by Congress and was most recently reauthorized in August 2008. Congress also must determine funding levels for Title IV programs on an annual basis and can change the laws governing Title IV programs at any time. Apart from Title IV programs, eligible veterans and military personnel may receive educational benefits for the pursuit of higher education. A reduction in federal funding levels for Title IV programs, or for programs providing educational benefits to veterans and military personnel, could reduce the ability of some students to finance their education. We cannot predict with certainty the nature of any new regulatory requirements, other future revisions to the law or funding levels for Title IV programs. Because a significant percentage of our revenue is and is expected to be derived from Title IV programs, any action by Congress that significantly reduces Title IV program funding or the ability of us or our students to participate in Title IV programs could have a material effect on our enrollments, business, financial condition and results of operations. Congressional action also may require us to modify our practices in ways that could increase administrative costs and reduce profit margins, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
If Congress significantly reduced the amount of available Title IV program funding, we would attempt to arrange for alternative sources of financial aid for our students, such as private sources. We cannot provide assurance that one or more private organizations would be willing or able to provide sufficient loans to students attending one of our schools or programs, or that the interest rate and other terms of such loans would be as favorable as Title IV program loans or acceptable to our students or that such private sources would be adequate to replace the full amount of the reduction in Title IV program funding. Therefore, even if some form of private financing sources becomes available, our enrollment could be materially affected. In addition, private organizations could require us to guarantee all or part of this assistance resulting in additional costs to us. If we were to provide more direct financial assistance to our students, we would assume increased credit risks and incur additional costs, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
New rulemaking by the Department of Education could result in regulatory changes that could reduce our enrollment and revenue, increase costs of operations, and adversely affect our business.
 
Negotiated rulemaking is a process whereby the Department of Education consults with members of the postsecondary education community to identify issues of concern and attempts to agree on proposed regulatory revisions to address those issues before the Department of Education formally proposes any regulations. If the Department of Education and negotiators cannot reach consensus on the entire package of draft regulations, the Department of Education is authorized to propose regulations without being bound by any agreements made in the negotiation process. In recent years, the Department of Education has held negotiated rulemaking sessions and published regulations on various topics, as described further in “Item 1 – Business – Regulatory Matters – Changes in Department of Education Regulations.”
 
 
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We cannot predict with certainty when or whether the Department of Education will propose or finalize regulations on topics that may impact us, or the impact of any regulations resulting from the Department of Education’s current or future rulemaking activities. In addition, Congress may promulgate legislation, and the executive branch may issue executive orders which would impact us. Any such actions could reduce our enrollments, increase our cost of doing business, and have a material effect on our business. In addition, any regulations that reduce or eliminate our students’ access to Title IV program funds, that require us to change or eliminate programs or that increase our costs of compliance could have an adverse effect on our business.
 
The recently increased focus by Congress on the for-profit education sector could result in legislation or further Department of Education rulemaking restricting Title IV program participation by proprietary schools in a manner that could materially affect our business.
 
In recent years, Congress has placed increased focus on the role that for-profit educational institutions play in higher education, which is described further in “Item 1 – Business – Regulatory Matters – Changes in Department of Education Regulations.” As described above, the HELP Committee and other Congressional members and committees have scrutinized various aspects of the education industry, including student debt, student recruiting, student outcomes and accreditation matters. The HELP Committee held a series of hearings on the proprietary education sector and released a report in July 2012, which could lead to further investigations of proprietary schools and additional regulations promulgated by the Department of Education. The executive branch and the Department of Defense have also increased their focus on the provision of educational benefits for military personnel and veterans.
 
We cannot predict whether, or the extent to which, these hearings, reports and review will result in legislation or further rulemaking affecting our participation in Title IV programs. To the extent that any laws or regulations are adopted that limit our participation in Title IV programs or the amount of student financial aid for which the students at our institutions are eligible, our enrollments, revenues and results of operation could be materially affected. In addition, we anticipate that reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will be a priority for the relevant Congressional committees during the 115th Congress, which began in January 2017. Any actions that change the requirements for our participation in Title IV Programs or the amount of student financial aid for which our students are eligible would negatively impact our business.
 
Recent statutory and regulatory changes substantially increased reporting and other requirements that could impair our reputation and adversely affect our enrollments. Our failure to comply with or accurately interpret pertinent disclosure requirements may subject us to penalties and other sanctions.
 
The most recent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, in August 2008, contains numerous revisions to the requirements governing Title IV programs. Among other things, institutions participating in Title IV programs are subject to extensive additional reporting and disclosure requirements. Additionally, the Department of Education’s gainful employment regulations require a number of specific disclosures to students and prospective students regarding our educational programs. Such disclosures include the occupations that NAU’s educational programs prepare students to enter upon completing their program, total program costs and median student debt incurred for our programs, along with program completion and placement rates for our programs. Any failure by us to properly interpret these new requirements could subject us to limitation, suspension or termination of our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, the imposition of conditions on our participation in Title IV programs, monetary liabilities, fines and penalties or other sanctions imposed by the Department of Education, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. The prospect of such sanctions may cause us to conservatively interpret the new reporting requirements of Title IV programs by the Department of Education, which may limit our flexibility in operating our business.
 
 
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If any of the education regulatory agencies or commissions that regulate us do not approve or delay any required approvals of transactions involving a change of control, our ability to operate or participate in Title IV programs may be impaired.
 
If we experience a change in control under the standards of the Department of Education, the HLC, any applicable state educational licensing agency, or any specialized accrediting agency commission, we must notify or seek the approval of each such agency. These agencies do not have uniform criteria for what constitutes a change in control. Transactions or events that typically constitute a change in control include significant acquisitions or dispositions of the voting stock of an institution or its parent company, and significant changes in the composition of the board of directors of an institution or its parent company. Some of these transactions or events may be beyond our control. Our failure to obtain, or a delay in receiving, approval of any change in control from the Department of Education, the HLC or applicable state educational licensing agencies could impair our ability to operate or participate in Title IV programs, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Failure to obtain, or a delay in receiving, approval of any change in control from any state in which we are currently licensed or authorized, or from any of our specialized accrediting commissions, could require us to suspend our activities in that state or suspend offering the applicable programs until we receive the required approval, or could otherwise impair our operations. The potential adverse effects of a change in control could influence future decisions by us and our stockholders regarding the sale, purchase, transfer, issuance or redemption of our stock, which could discourage bids for outstanding shares of the stock and could have an adverse effect on the market price of our shares.
 
We cannot offer new programs, expand our operations into certain states or acquire additional schools if such actions are not approved by the applicable regulatory and accrediting agencies, and we may have to repay Title IV funds disbursed to students enrolled in any such programs, schools or states if we do not obtain prior approval.
 
Our expansion plans include offering new educational programs, expanding operations in additional states and potentially acquiring existing schools from other companies. If we are unable to obtain the necessary approvals for such new programs, operations or acquisitions from the Department of Education, the HLC or any applicable state educational licensing agency or accrediting commission, or if we are unable to obtain such approvals in a timely manner, our ability to consummate the planned actions and provide Title IV program funds to any affected students would be impaired, which could have a material effect on our expansion plans and growth. If we were to determine erroneously that any such action did not need approval or that we had obtained all required approvals, including all required approvals for each of our current programs and locations, we could be liable for repayment of Title IV program funds provided to students in that program or at that location.
 
If the Department of Education does not recertify us to continue participating in Title IV programs, our students would lose their access to Title IV program funds, or we could be recertified but required to accept significant limitations as a condition of our continued participation in Title IV programs.
 
 
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The Department of Education certification to participate in Title IV programs lasts a maximum of six years, and institutions are required to seek recertification from the Department of Education on a regular basis to continue their participation in Title IV programs. An institution must also apply for recertification by the Department of Education if it undergoes a change in control, as defined by Department of Education regulations, and may be subject to similar review if it expands its operations or educational programs in certain ways. Generally, the recertification process includes a review by the Department of Education of the institution’s educational programs and locations, administrative capability, financial responsibility and other oversight categories. The Department of Education could limit, suspend or terminate an institution’s participation in Title IV programs for violations of the Higher Education Act or Title IV regulations. Our current certification to participate in the Title IV programs was effective in June 2013 and extends through March 31, 2019. There can be no assurance that the Department of Education will recertify us after our current period of certification or that it would not impose restrictions in connection with any such recertification. In addition, the Department of Education may take emergency action to suspend our certification without advance notice if it receives reliable information that we are violating Title IV requirements and it determines that immediate action is necessary to prevent misuse of Title IV funds. If the Department of Education does not renew or withdraws our certification to participate in Title IV programs at any time, our students would no longer be able to receive Title IV program funds. Similarly, the Department of Education could renew our certification, but restrict or delay our students’ receipt of Title IV funds, limit the number of students to whom it could disburse such funds or impose other restrictions. Any of these outcomes could have a material effect on NAU’s enrollments and our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
We would lose our ability to participate in Title IV programs if we fail to maintain our institutional accreditation, and our student enrollments could decline if we fail to maintain any of our accreditations or approvals.
 
An institution must be accredited by a postsecondary accrediting commission recognized by the Department of Education to participate in Title IV programs. We have been granted institutional accreditation by the HLC, which is a regional accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education. To remain accredited, we must continuously meet accreditation standards relating to, among other things, performance, governance, institutional integrity, educational quality, faculty, administrative capability, resources and financial stability. Our accreditation by the HLC was most recently continued in January 2015. In addition, many of our individual educational programs are also accredited by specialized accrediting commissions or approved by specialized state agencies. If we fail to satisfy the standards of any of those specialized accrediting commissions or state agencies, we could lose the specialized accreditation or approval for the affected programs, which could result in materially reduced student enrollments in those programs and have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
If we fail to maintain any of our state authorizations, we would lose our ability to operate in that state and for campuses in the state to participate in Title IV programs.
 
We operate physical facilities offering educational programs in South Dakota, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. To maintain our state authorizations, we must continuously meet standards relating to, among other things, educational programs, facilities, instructional and administrative staff, marketing and recruitment, financial operations, addition of new locations and educational programs and various operational and administrative procedures. We may need to apply for additional authorization in these or other states in which we are authorized in order to comply with the Department of Education’s state authorization requirements, and the authorization process could result in unexpected delays or other setbacks that could jeopardize our Title IV eligibility. If we fail to satisfy any of these standards, we could lose our authorization from the applicable state educational agency to offer educational programs and could be forced to cease operations in such state. Such a loss of authorization would also cause our physical campus in the state to lose eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. Some states may also prescribe financial regulations that are different from those of the Department of Education and many require the posting of surety bonds. If we fail to comply with state licensing requirements, we may lose our state licensure or authorizations. If we lose state licensure in a state in which we have a physical location, we would also lose Title IV eligibility in that state. Any such event could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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On December 19, 2016, the Department of Education published final regulations regarding state authorization for programs offered through distance education and state authorization for foreign locations of institutions. Among other provisions, these final regulations require that an institution participating in the Title IV federal student aid programs and offering postsecondary education through distance education be authorized by each state in which the institution enrolls students, if such authorization is required by the state. These final regulations, which are effective July 1, 2018, are further described in See “Item 1 – Business – Regulation of Federal Financial Aid Programs – State Authorization.” Independent of this matter of federal regulation, several states have asserted jurisdiction over educational institutions offering online programs that have no physical location or other presence in the state, but that have some activity in the state, such as enrolling or offering educational services to students who reside in the state, conducting practice or sponsoring internships in the state, employing faculty who reside in the state or advertising to or recruiting prospective students in the state. Thus, our activities in certain states constitute a presence requiring licensure or authorization under requirements of state law, regulation or policy of the state educational agency, even though we do not have a physical facility in such states. Therefore, in addition to the states where we maintain physical facilities, we have either obtained approvals or exemptions, or are currently in the process of obtaining such approvals or exemptions, that we believe are necessary in connection with our activities that may constitute a presence in such states requiring licensure or authorization by the state educational agency based on the laws, rules or regulations of that state. Notwithstanding our efforts to obtain approvals or exemptions, state regulatory requirements for online education vary among the states, are not well developed in many states, are imprecise or unclear in some states and can change frequently. Because we enroll students in online programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we expect that regulatory authorities in other states where we are not currently licensed or authorized may request that we seek additional licenses or authorizations for these institutions in their states in the future. In recent years several states have voluntarily entered into State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (“SARA”) that establish standards for interstate offering of post-secondary distance education courses and programs. If an institution’s home state participates in SARA and authorizes the institution to provide distance education in accordance with SARA standards, then the institution need not obtain additional authorizations for distance education from any other SARA member state. The SARA participation requirements and process are administered by the four regional higher education compacts in the United States (the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, the New England Board of Higher Education, the Southern Regional Education Board and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) and are overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. NAU is approved to participate in SARA, through the SARA Coordinator of the South Dakota Board of Regents as a state portal agency with its most recent approval effective from April 18, 2017 through April 17, 2018.
 
If we fail to comply with state licensing or authorization requirements for a state, or fail to obtain licenses or authorizations when required, we could lose state licensure or authorization by that state, which could prohibit us from recruiting prospective students or offering services to current students in that state. We could also be subject to other sanctions, including restrictions on activities in that state, fines and penalties. We review the licensure requirements of other states when we believe that it is appropriate to determine whether our activities in those states may constitute a presence or otherwise may require licensure or authorization by the respective state education agencies. New laws, regulations or interpretations related to offering educational programs online could increase our cost of doing business and affect our ability to recruit students in particular states, which could, in turn, adversely affect our enrollments and revenues and have a material effect on our business.
 
 
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If we do not comply with the Department of Education’s “administrative capability” standards, we could suffer financial penalties, be required to accept other limitations to continue participating in Title IV programs or lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.
 
Department of Education regulations specify extensive criteria an institution must satisfy to establish that it has the requisite “administrative capability” to participate in Title IV programs. These criteria require, among other things, that we:
 
 
comply with all applicable Title IV program regulations;
 
 
have capable and sufficient personnel to administer the federal student financial aid programs;
 
 
not have student loan cohort default rates in excess of specified levels;
 
 
have acceptable methods of defining and measuring the satisfactory academic progress of our students;
 
 
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 our students;
 
        
refer to the Department of Education’s 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;
 
 
submit in a timely manner all reports and financial statements required by Title IV regulations; and
 
 
not otherwise appear to lack administrative capability.
 
If an institution fails to satisfy any of these criteria or comply with any other Department of Education regulations, the Department of Education may:
 
 
require the institution to repay Title IV program funds;
 
        
transfer the institution from the “advance” system of payment of Title IV program funds to cash monitoring status or to the “reimbursement” system of payment;
 
 
place the institution on provisional certification status; or
 
 
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commence a proceeding to impose a fine or to limit, suspend or terminate the participation of the institution in Title IV programs.
 
If we were found not to have satisfied the Department of Education’s “administrative capability” requirements, we could be limited in our access to, or lose, Title IV program funding, which could significantly reduce our enrollments and have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
The Department of Education may adopt regulations governing federal student loan debt forgiveness that could result in liability for amounts based on borrower defenses or affect the Department of Education’s assessment of our institutional capability.
 
On November 1, 2016, the Department of Education published final regulations that among other provisions, establish new standards and processes for determining whether a Direct Loan Program borrower has a defense to repayment (“Borrower Defense”) on a loan due to acts or omissions by the institution at which the loan was used by the borrower for educational expenses. These final regulations (the “Borrower Defense Final Rule”) were published with an effective date of July 1, 2017. Among other topics, the Borrower Defense Final Rule establishes permissible borrower defense claims for discharge, procedural rules under which claims will be adjudicated, time limits for borrowers’ claims, and guidelines for recoupment by the Department of Education of discharged loan amounts from institutions of higher education. The Borrower Defense Final Rule also prohibits schools from using any pre-dispute arbitration agreements, prohibits schools from prohibiting relief in the form of class actions by student borrowers, and invalidates clauses imposing requirements that students pursue an internal dispute resolution process before contacting authorities regarding concerns about an institution. For proprietary institutions, the Borrower Defense Final Rule describes the threshold for loan repayment rates that will require specific disclosures to current and prospective students and the applicable loan repayment rate methodology. The Borrower Defense Final Rule also establishes important new financial responsibility and administrative capacity requirements for both not-for-profit and for-profit institutions participating in the Title IV programs. For example, certain events would automatically trigger the need for a school to obtain a letter of credit, including for publicly traded institutions, if the SEC warns the school that it may suspend trading on the school’s stock, the school failed to timely file a required annual or quarterly report with the SEC, or the exchange on which the stock is traded notifies the school that it is not in compliance with exchange requirements or the stock is delisted. Other events would will require a recalculation of an institution’s composite score of financial responsibility, including, for a proprietary institution whose score is less than 1.5, any withdrawal of an owner's equity by any means, including by declaring a dividend, unless the equity is transferred within the affiliated entity group on whose basis the composite score was calculated. The Borrower Defense Final Rule also sets forth events that are discretionary triggers for letters of credit, meaning that if any of them occur, the Department of Education may choose to require a letter of credit, increase an existing letter of credit requirement or demand some other form of surety from the institution. The Borrower Defense Final Rule provides that if an institution fails to meet the composite score requirement for longer than three years under provisional certification, the Department of Education may mandate additional financial protection from the institution or any party with “substantial control” over the institution. Such parties with “substantial control” must agree to jointly and severally guarantee the Title IV program liabilities of the institution at the end of the three-year provisional certification period. Under current regulations, a party may be deemed to have "substantial control" over an institution if, among other factors, the party directly or indirectly holds an ownership interest of 25% or more of an institution, or is a member of the board of directors, a general partner, the chief executive officer or other executive officer of the institution. On June 15, 2017, the Department of Education announced and indefinite delay to its implementation of the Borrower Defense Final Rule, and on June 16, 2017 published a notice of intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to develop proposed revisions to the rule. On July 6, 2017, the attorneys general of 18 states and the District of Columbia filed suit against the Department of Education claiming that its delay of the Borrower Defense Final Rule violated applicable law, including the Administrative Procedure Act. We cannot predict with any certainty the outcome of that litigation or the extent to which a revised rule may differ from the previously promulgated Borrower Defense Final Rule. Any regulation that increases potential borrower defense liabilities or affects the Department of Education’s assessment of our institutional capability could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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If we do not meet specific financial responsibility standards established by the Department of Education, we may be required to post a letter of credit or accept other limitations to continue participating in Title IV programs, or we could lose our 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 Department of Education, or post a letter of credit in favor of the Department of Education and possibly accept other conditions on its participation in Title IV programs. These financial responsibility tests are applied to each institution on an annual basis based on the institution’s audited financial statements, and may be applied at other times, such as if the institution undergoes a change in control. The Department of Education may also apply such 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 post a letter of credit in favor of the Department of Education and possibly accept other conditions on its participation in Title IV programs. The operating restrictions that may be placed on an institution that does not meet the quantitative standards of financial responsibility include being transferred from the “advance payment” method of receiving Title IV program funds to either the “reimbursement” or the “heightened cash monitoring” system, which could result in a significant delay in the institution’s receipt of those funds. Limitations on, or termination of, our participation in Title IV programs as a result of our failure to demonstrate financial responsibility would limit our students’ access to Title IV program funds, which could significantly reduce enrollments and have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
As described in more detail under “Item 1 – Business - Regulatory Matters — Regulation of Federal Student Aid Programs — Financial Responsibility,” the Department of Education annually assesses our financial responsibility through a composite score determination. Our audited financial statements for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017 and May 31, 2016 indicated our composite scores for such fiscal years were 1.8 and 1.8, respectively, which are sufficient to be deemed financially responsible under the Department of Education’s requirements.
 
On November 1, 2016, as part of the Borrower Defense Final Rule, the Department of Education adopted final regulations that revise its general standards of financial responsibility to include various actions and events that would require institutions to provide the Department of Education with irrevocable letters of credit. On June 15, 2017, the Department of Education announced the indefinite delay to its implementation of the Borrower Defense Final Rule, and on June 16, 2017 published a notice of intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to revise the rule. For additional information regarding the Borrower Defense Final Rule, see “— The Department of Education may adopt regulations governing federal student loan debt forgiveness that could result in liability for amounts based on borrower defenses or affect the Department of Education’s assessment of our institutional capability.” We cannot predict with certainty the timing or substance of any future regulations concerning financial responsibility standards for Title IV program participation, nor the impact that such regulations might have on our business. Any Department of Education regulations that require NAU to post letters of credit or accept other limitations to continue participating in Title IV programs could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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We may lose our eligibility to participate in the federal student financial aid programs if the percentage of our revenues derived from Title IV programs is too high.
 
A provision of the Higher Education Act commonly referred to as the 90/10 Rule, as amended in August 2008, provides that a for-profit educational institution loses its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs if, under a complex regulatory formula that requires cash basis accounting and other adjustments to the calculation of revenue, the institution derives more than 90% of its revenues from Title IV program funds for any two consecutive fiscal years. An institution that derives more than 90% of its revenue (on a cash basis) from Title IV programs for any single fiscal year will be placed on provisional certification for at least two fiscal years and may be subject to additional conditions or sanctions imposed by the Department of Education. During the period of provisional certification, the institution must comply with any additional conditions included in the institution’s program participation agreement with the Department of Education. In addition, the Department of Education may more closely review an institution that is provisionally certified if it applies for recertification or approval to open a new location, add an educational program, acquire another school or make any other significant change. If the Department of Education determines that a provisionally certified institution is unable to meet its responsibilities under its program participation agreement, the Department of Education may seek to revoke the institution’s certification to participate in Title IV programs without advance notice or opportunity for the institution to challenge the action. If we were to violate the 90/10 Rule, we would become ineligible to participate in Title IV programs as of the first day of the fiscal year following the second consecutive fiscal year in which we exceeded the 90% threshold and would be unable to regain eligibility for two fiscal years thereafter. Under regulations that were published by the Department of Education in October 2009, a proprietary institution must disclose in a footnote to its annual audited financial statements its 90/10 calculation and the amounts of the federal and non-federal revenues, by source, included in its 90/10 calculation. The certified public accountant that prepares the institution’s audited financial statements is required to review that information and test the institution’s calculation. For our 2017, 2016 and 2015 fiscal years, we derived approximately 82.6%, 86.8% and 89.2%, respectively, of our revenues (calculated on a cash basis) from Title IV program funds. If we violate the 90/10 Rule and continue to disburse Title IV program funds to students after the effective date of our loss of eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, we would be required to return those funds to the Department of Education. We are exploring the feasibility of various potential measures that would be intended to reduce the percentage of NAU’s cash basis revenue attributable under the 90/10 Rule to Title IV Program funds. Among other things, we expect to expand our non-Title IV continuing education programming. If we were to violate the 90/10 Rule, we would become ineligible to participate in Title IV programs as of the first day of the fiscal year following the second consecutive fiscal year in which we exceeded the 90% Title IV program funds threshold and would be unable to regain eligibility for two fiscal years thereafter.
 
Increases in Title IV grant and loan limits currently or in the future may result in an increase in the revenues we receive from Title IV programs. Further, a significant number of states in which we operate have faced budget constraints, which have caused or may cause them to reduce state appropriations in a number of areas, including with respect to the amount of financial assistance provided to postsecondary students, which could further increase our percentage of revenues derived from Title IV program funds. Also, the employment circumstances of our students or their parents could also increase reliance on Title IV program funds. Furthermore, from time to time, legislation is introduced that would make a proprietary institution ineligible to participate in Title IV programs if it derives more than 85% of its revenues from federal funds, including Title IV programs, revenues from the GI Bill and Department of Defense Tuition Assistance funds. We are exploring the feasibility of various potential measures that would be intended to reduce the percentage of NAU’s cash basis revenue attributable under the 90/10 Rule to Title IV Program funds. Certain measures that could be taken to maintain compliance with the 90/10 Rule may reduce our revenues, increase our operating expenses, or both, perhaps significantly. If we become ineligible to participate in Title IV programs as a result of noncompliance with the 90/10 Rule, it can be expected to have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
 
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We may lose our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs if our student loan default rates are too high.
 
An educational institution may lose its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs if, for three consecutive years, 30% or more of its students who were required to begin repayment on their student loans in the relevant fiscal year default on their payment by the end of the next federal fiscal year or the subsequent fiscal year. In addition, an institution may lose its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs if the default rate of its students exceeds 40% for any single year.
 
The Department of Education generally publishes draft cohort default rates in February of each year for the prepayment period that ended the prior September. Draft cohort default rates do not result in sanctions, are subject to subsequent data corrections and appeals by an institution, and can change between their issuance to institutions and the Department of Education’s release of official cohort default rates, which are typically issued annually in September. Our official cohort default rates for federal fiscal years 2012, 2011 and 2010 are 23.4%, 20.6% and 21.4%, respectively. The draft cohort rate for federal fiscal year 2014 is 24.3%. Any increase in interest rates or reliance on “self-pay” students, as well as declines in income or job losses for our students, could contribute to higher default rates on student loans. Exceeding the student loan default rate thresholds and losing eligibility to participate in Title IV programs would have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any future changes in the formula for calculating student loan default rates, economic conditions or other factors that cause our default rates to increase, could place us in danger of losing our eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, which would have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
We would be subject to sanctions if we were to pay impermissible commissions, bonuses or other incentive payments to individuals involved in certain recruiting, admission or financial aid activities.
 
The Higher Education Act prohibits an educational institution that participates in Title IV programs from making any commission, bonus or other incentive payments based directly or indirectly on securing enrollments or financial aid to any persons or entities involved in student recruiting or admissions activities, or in making decisions about the award of student financial assistance. The statutory prohibition against incentive compensation applies to any person engaged in student recruitment or admissions activities or in making financial aid award decisions, and any higher level employees with responsibility for such activities. Since July 1, 2011, the Department of Education’s implementing regulations have effectively deemed any commission, bonus or other incentive compensation based in any part, directly or indirectly, on securing enrollment or awarding financial aid to be inconsistent with the statutory prohibition against incentive compensation payments. The Department of Education also issued a “Dear Colleague” letter in March 2011, providing additional guidance regarding the scope of the prohibition on incentive compensation and to what employees and types of activities the prohibition applies. The July 1, 2011 revisions to the Department of Education’s regulations required us to change our compensation practices and has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the rate at which students enroll in our programs and on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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In addition, 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.
 
We are subject to sanctions if we fail to correctly calculate and timely return Title IV program funds for students who withdraw before completing their educational program.
 
An institution participating in Title IV programs must calculate the amount of unearned Title IV program funds that it has disbursed to students who withdraw from their educational programs before completing such programs and must return those unearned funds to the appropriate lender or the Department of Education in a timely manner, generally within 45 days of the date the institution determines that the student has withdrawn. If the unearned funds are not properly calculated and timely returned for a sufficient percentage of students, we may have to post a letter of credit in favor of the Department of Education equal to 25% of Title IV program funds that should have been returned for such students in the prior fiscal year, and we could be fined or otherwise sanctioned by the Department of Education. If we do not correctly calculate and timely return unearned Title IV program funds, we may have to post letters of credit in favor of the Department of Education, may be liable for repayment of Title IV funds and related interest and may otherwise be subject to adverse actions by the Department of Education, including termination of our participation in Title IV programs, any of which could increase our cost of regulatory compliance and have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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If any of our educational programs fail to qualify as programs that lead to gainful employment in a recognized occupation, it could reduce our enrollment and revenue, increase costs of operations, and adversely affect our business.
 
Under the Higher Education Act, proprietary schools generally are eligible to participate in Title IV programs in respect of educational programs that lead to “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” Historically, the concept of “gainful employment” has not been defined in detail. On October 31, 2014, the Department of Education published final regulations to define “gainful employment” which became effective on July 1, 2015. The gainful employment regulations define this concept using ratios, one based on annual DTE and another based on DTI ratio. Under the gainful employment regulations, an educational program with a DTE ratio at or below 8% or a DTI ratio at or below 20% is considered “passing.” An educational program with a DTE ratio greater than 8% but less than or equal to 12% or a DTI ratio greater than 20% but less than or equal to 30% is considered to be “in the zone.” An educational program with a DTE ratio greater than 12% and a DTI ratio greater than 30% is considered “failing.” An educational program will cease to be eligible for students to receive Title IV program funds if its DTE and DTI ratios are failing in to out of any three consecutive award years or if both of these rates are failing or in the zone for four consecutive award years. On January 9, 2017, the Department of Education issued final debt-to-earnings rates to institutions for the first gainful employment debt measurement year. For a discussion of the performance of our current educational programs against the required debt measures, see “Item 1. Business – Regulatory Matters – Regulation of Federal Student Financial Aid Programs.”
 
Additionally, the gainful employment regulations require an institution to certify to the Department of Education that its educational programs subject to the regulations, which include all programs offered by us, meet the applicable requirements for graduates to be professionally or occupationally licensed or certified in the state in which the institution is located. If we are unable to certify that our programs meet the applicable state requirements for graduates to be professionally or occupationally certified in that state, then we may need to cease offering certain programs in certain states or to students who are residents in certain states. The gainful employment regulations further include requirements for the reporting of student and program data by institutions to the Department of Education and expand the disclosure requirements that have been in effect since July 1, 2011.
 
On June 16, 2017, the Department of Education published a notice of intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to develop proposed revisions to the gainful employment regulations. We cannot predict with any certainty the outcome of that future negotiated rulemaking or the extent to which a revised regulation may differ from the gainful employment regulations. On July 5, 2017, the Department of Education further announced that it is allowing additional time, until July 1, 2018, for institutions to comply with certain disclosure requirements in the gainful employment regulations.
 
The failure of any program or programs offered by NAU to satisfy any gainful employment regulations could render that program or programs ineligible for Title IV program funds. Additionally, any gainful employment data released by the Department of Education about our programs or warnings provided to students under the regulations could influence current students not to continue their studies, discourage prospective students from enrolling in our programs or negatively impact our reputation. If a particular educational program ceased to become eligible for Title IV program funds, either because it fails to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation or due to other factors, we may choose to cease offering the program. We could also be required to make changes to certain programs in the future in order to comply with the regulations or to avoid the uncertainty associated with such compliance. Any of these factors could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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We could be held liable for any misrepresentation regarding the nature of our educational programs, financial charges and financial assistance or the employability of our graduates.
 
An institution participating in Title IV programs is prohibited from making misrepresentations regarding the nature of its educational programs, the nature of financial charges and availability of financial assistance, or the employability of graduates. A misrepresentation is defined in the regulations as any false, erroneous or misleading statement to any student or prospective student, any member of the public, an accrediting agency, a state agency or the Department of Education. Furthermore, under the Borrower Defense Final Rule, the Department of Education expanded its misrepresentation regulations to prohibit omissions of information and statements with a likelihood or tendency to mislead under the circumstances. If we – or any entity, organization, or person with whom we have an agreement to provide educational programs or to provide marketing, advertising, recruiting, or admissions services – commit a misrepresentation for which a person could reasonably be expected to rely, or has reasonably relied, to that person’s detriment, the Department of Education could initiate proceedings to revoke our Title IV eligibility, deny applications made by us, impose fines, or initiate a limitation, suspension or termination proceeding against us. Further, although the Department of Education claims not to have created any private right of action, the Department of Education’s recent modifications to its misrepresentation regulations could increase risk of qui tam actions under the False Claims Act.
 
If we fail to maintain adequate systems and processes to detect and prevent fraudulent activity in student enrollment and financial aid, our business could be materially adversely affected.
 
Institutions of higher education are susceptible to an increased risk of fraudulent activity by outside parties with respect to student enrollment and student financial aid programs. The Department of Education’s regulations require institutions that participate in Title IV programs to refer to the Office of Inspector General credible information indicating that any applicant, employee, third-party servicer or agent of the institution that acts in a capacity that involves administration of the Title IV programs has been engaged in any fraud or other illegal conduct involving Title IV programs. We cannot be certain that our systems and processes will always be adequate in the face of increasingly sophisticated and ever-changing fraud schemes. The potential for outside parties to perpetrate fraud in connection with the award and disbursement of Title IV program funds, including as a result of identity theft, may be heightened due to our offering various educational programs via distance education. Any significant failure by NAU to adequately detect fraudulent activity related to student enrollment and financial aid could result in loss of accreditation, which would result in the institution losing eligibility for Title IV programs, or in direct action by the Department of Education to limit or terminate NAU's Title IV program participation. Any of these outcomes could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
If our students experience a loss or reduction of state financial aid, we could be materially affected.
 
Some of our students rely on state financial aid to fund a portion of their education. Many states in which we operate have faced budget constraints, which have caused or may cause them to reduce or eliminate state appropriations, including with respect to the amount of financial assistance provided to postsecondary students, and additional states may reduce or eliminate such appropriations in the future. In addition, state financial aid programs generally are subject to annual appropriation by the state legislatures, which may eliminate or significantly decrease the amount of state financial aid available to students. We cannot predict whether future reductions in state financial aid programs will occur or how long such reductions will persist. For fiscal year ended May 31, 2017, we derived approximately 1% of our total revenue from state financial aid programs, although the percentage derived by each of our campus locations may vary on an individual basis. The loss or reduction of state financial aid could decrease our student enrollment and could have a material effect on our business.
 
A substantial decrease in private student financing options or a significant increase in financing costs for our students could have a material effect on us.
 
Some of our eligible students have used private (i.e., non-Title IV) loan programs to fund a portion of their education costs not covered by Title IV program funds or state financial aid sources. Recent adverse market conditions for consumer and federally guaranteed student loans (including lenders’ increasing difficulties in reselling or syndicating student loan portfolios) have resulted, and could continue to result, in providers of private loans reducing the availability of or increasing the costs associated with providing private loans to postsecondary students. In particular, loans to students with low credit scores who would not otherwise be eligible for credit-based private loans have become increasingly difficult to obtain. Prospective students may find that these increased financing costs make borrowing prohibitively expensive and abandon or delay enrollment in postsecondary education programs. If our students are unable to finance their education our student population could decrease, which would have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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Government and regulatory agencies and third parties may conduct compliance reviews, bring claims or initiate litigation against us.
 
Because we operate in a highly regulated industry, we may be 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 these reviews or proceedings are unfavorable to us, or if we are unable to defend successfully against lawsuits or claims, we may be required to pay money damages or be subject to fines, limitations, loss of eligibility for Title IV funding, injunctions or other penalties. 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. Additionally, we may experience adverse collateral consequences as a result of any negative publicity associated with such claims, including declines in student enrollments and lessened willingness of third parties to do business with us. Claims and lawsuits brought against us may damage our reputation or cost us to incur expenses, even if such claims and lawsuits are without merit.
 
Our regulatory environment and our reputation may be negatively influenced by the actions of other postsecondary institutions.
 
In recent years, regulatory investigations and civil litigation have been commenced against several postsecondary educational institutions. These investigations and lawsuits have alleged, among other things, deceptive trade practices and non-compliance with Department of Education 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 these specific companies, broader allegations against the overall postsecondary sector may negatively impact public perceptions of postsecondary educational institutions, including us. Such allegations could result in increased scrutiny and regulation by the Department of Education, U.S. Congress, accrediting bodies, state legislatures or other governmental authorities on all postsecondary institutions.
 
Risks Related to Our Business
 
We operate in a highly competitive industry, and competitors with greater resources could harm our business, decrease market share and put downward pressure on our tuition rates.
 
The postsecondary education market is highly fragmented and competitive. We compete for students with traditional public and private two-year and four- year colleges and universities, and other for-profit schools, including those that offer online learning programs, and alternatives to higher education, such as employment and military service. Many public and private schools, colleges and universities, including most major colleges and universities, offer online programs. We expect to experience additional competition in the future as more colleges, universities and for-profit schools offer an increasing number of online programs. Public institutions receive substantial government subsidies, and public and private non-profit institutions have access to government and foundation grants, tax-deductible contributions and other financial resources generally not available to for-profit schools. Accordingly, public and private nonprofit institutions may have instructional and support resources superior to those in the for-profit sector, and public institutions can offer substantially lower tuition prices. Some of our competitors in both the public and private sectors also have substantially greater financial and other resources than us. We may not be able to compete successfully against current or future competitors and may face competitive pressures that could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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Our online and distance learning programs operate in a highly competitive market with rapid technological changes.
 
Online education is a highly fragmented and competitive market subject to rapid technological change. Competitors vary in size and organization from traditional colleges and universities, many of which offer some form of online education programs, to for-profit schools and software companies providing online education and training software. We expect the online education and training market to be subject to rapid changes in delivery, interaction and other future innovation and advancement. Our success will depend, in part, on our ability to adapt to changing technologies in online and distance learning and offer an attractive online/distance education option while maintaining competitive pricing. Furthermore, the expansion of our online programs and the development of new programs may not be accepted by the online education market. In addition, a general decline in Internet use for any reason, including due to security or privacy concerns, the cost of Internet service or changes in government regulation of Internet use, may result in less demand for online educational services, in which case we may not be able to recruit and retain students and grow our online programs as planned. Accordingly, if we are unable to keep pace with changes in technology or maintain technological relevance, or if the use of the Internet changes, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.
 
If our graduates are unable to obtain professional licenses or certifications in their chosen field of study, we may face declining enrollments and revenues or be subject to student litigation.
 
Certain students, particularly in the healthcare programs, require or desire professional licenses or certifications after graduation to obtain employment in their chosen fields. Their success in obtaining such licensure depends on several factors, including the individual merits of the student, whether the institution and the program were approved by the state or by a professional association, whether the program from which the student graduated meets all state requirements and whether the institution is accredited. If one or more states refuses to recognize our graduates for professional licensure in the future based on factors relating to us or our programs, the potential growth of our programs would be negatively impacted, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, we could be exposed to litigation that would force us to incur legal and other expenses that could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
If we continue to decline in revenue and profitability, our stock price may decline and we may not have adequate financial resources to execute our business plan.
 
Our revenue decreased from approximately $117.9 million in fiscal 2015 to approximately $96.1 million in fiscal 2016 and then decreased to approximately $86.6 million in fiscal 2017. During the same period, our income before income taxes for fiscal 2015 was $11.2 million, compared to a loss of $8.2 million for fiscal 2016 and a loss of $7.8 million for fiscal 2017. If we are unable to maintain adequate revenue growth and profitability, our stock price may decline and we may not have adequate financial resources to execute our business plan. We have experienced losses in the past and it is possible we will experience losses in the future. In addition, we expect that our operating expenses and business development expenses will increase as we enroll more students, introduce new delivery mechanisms and develop new programs. As a result, there can be no assurance that we will be able to generate sufficient revenues to maintain profitability. In addition, you should not rely on the results of any prior periods as an indication of our future operating performance.
 
The payment and amount of future dividends is subject to Board of Director discretion and to various risks and uncertainties.
 
The payment and amount of future quarterly dividends is within the discretion of the Board of Directors and will depend on factors the Board deems relevant at the time declaration of a dividend is considered. These factors include, but are not limited to: available cash; management's expectations regarding future performance and free cash flow; and capital expenditures required to fund future growth; and, the effect of various risks and uncertainties described in this "Risk Factors" section.
 
 
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Our financial performance depends on our ability to continue to develop awareness among, and attract and retain, new students.
 
Building awareness of NAU and the programs and services we offer is critical to our ability to attract prospective students. If we are unable to successfully market and advertise our educational programs, our ability to attract and enroll students could be adversely affected, and, consequently, our ability to increase revenue or generate profitability could be impaired. It is also critical to our success that we convert prospective students to enrolled students in a cost-effective manner and that these enrolled students remain active in our programs. Some of the factors that could prevent us from successfully enrolling and retaining students include:
 
        
the reduced availability of, or higher interest rates and other costs associated with, Title IV loan funds or other sources of financial aid;
 
 
the emergence of more successful competitors;
 
        
factors related to our marketing, including the costs and effectiveness of Internet advertising and broad-based branding campaigns and recruiting efforts;
 
 
performance problems with our online systems;
 
 
failure to maintain institutional and specialized accreditations;
 
 
failure to obtain and maintain required state authorizations;
 
        
the requirements of the education agencies that regulate us that restrict the initiation of new locations, new programs and modification of existing programs;
 
 
the requirements of the education agencies that regulate us that restrict the ways schools can compensate their recruitment personnel;
 
 
increased regulation of online education, including in states in which we do not have a physical presence;
 
 
restrictions that may be imposed on graduates of online programs that seek certification or licensure in certain states;
 
 
student dissatisfaction with our services and programs;
 
 
adverse publicity regarding us, our competitors, or online or for-profit education generally;
 
 
price reductions by competitors that we are unwilling or unable to match;
 
 
a decline in the acceptance of online education;
 
 
an adverse economic or other development that affects job prospects in our core disciplines;
 
 
a decrease in the perceived or actual economic benefits that students derive from our programs;
 
 
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litigation or regulatory investigations that may damage our reputation; and
 
 
changes in the general economy, including employment.
 
If, for any reason or reasons, including those presented above, we are unable to maintain and increase our awareness among prospective students, recruit students and convert prospective students into enrolled students, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
 
Our new initiatives may place a strain on our resources that could adversely affect our systems, controls and operating efficiency.
 
We believe that future growth will be based upon an expansion of our current programs, the addition of new programs, an increase in our online presence, affiliation agreements and increasing enrollments. The growth and expansion of our domestic and international operations may place a significant strain on our resources and increase demands on our management information and reporting systems, financial management controls and personnel. Any failure to effectively manage or maintain growth could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
If we cannot maintain student enrollments, our results of operations may be adversely affected.
 
Our strategy for growth and profitability depends, in part, upon the retention of our students. While we provide certain services to our students (e.g., tutoring) in an effort to retain students and lower attrition rates, many of our students face financial, personal or family constraints that require them to withdraw within a term or at the end of a given term. Additionally, some students may decide to continue their education at a different institution. If for any reason, we are unable to predict and manage student attrition, our overall enrollment levels would likely decline, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
If the proportion of students who are enrolled in our Associate degree programs increases, we may experience increased costs and reduced margins.
 
  If increases in Associate degree programs take effect, we may experience additional consequences, such as higher costs per start, lower retention rates, higher student services costs, an increase in the percentage of our revenue derived from Title IV programs under the 90/10 Rule, more limited ability to implement tuition price increases and other effects that could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
An increase in interest rates could adversely affect our ability to attract and retain students.
 
For the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017, 2016, and 2015, NAU derived cash receipts equal to approximately 82.6%, 86.8%, and 89.2%, respectively, of its net revenue from tuition financed under Title IV programs, which include student loans with interest rates subsidized by the federal government. Additionally, some students finance their education through private loans that are not subsidized. If our students’ employment circumstances are adversely affected by regional or national economic downturns, they may be more heavily dependent on student loans. Interest rates have reached relatively low levels in recent years, creating a favorable borrowing environment for students. However, if interest rates increase or Congress decreases the amount available for Title IV funding, our students may have to pay higher interest rates on their loans. Any future increase in interest rates will result in a corresponding increase in educational costs to our existing and prospective students, which could result in a significant reduction in our student population and revenues. Higher interest rates could also contribute to higher default rates with respect to our students’ repayment of their education loans. Higher default rates may in turn adversely impact our eligibility to participate in some or all of the Title IV programs, which could result in a material effect on our enrollments and future growth prospects and our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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Our reputation and the value of our stock may be negatively affected by the actions of other postsecondary educational institutions.
 
In recent years, regulatory proceedings and litigation have been commenced against various postsecondary educational institutions relating to, among other things, deceptive trade practices, false claims against the government and non-compliance with Department of Education requirements, state education laws and state consumer protection laws. These proceedings have been brought by students, the Department of Education, the United States Department of Justice, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and state governmental agencies, among others. These allegations have attracted adverse media coverage and have been the subject of legislative hearings and regulatory actions at both the federal and state levels, focusing not only on the individual schools but in some cases on the larger for-profit postsecondary education sector as a whole. Adverse media coverage regarding other for-profit education companies or other educational institutions could damage our reputation, result in lower enrollments, revenues and results of operations and have a negative impact on the value of our stock. Such coverage could also result in increased scrutiny and regulation by the Department of Education, Congress, accrediting commissions, state legislatures, state attorneys general, state education agencies or other governmental authorities of all educational institutions, including us.
 
Our expansion into new markets outside the United States will subject us to risks inherent in international operations, are subject to significant start- up costs and will place strain on our management.
 
As part of our growth strategy, we intend to continue to establish markets outside the United States, subject to approvals from the HLC and other appropriate accrediting or regulatory agencies. Our operations in each of the foreign jurisdictions may subject us to additional educational and other regulations of foreign jurisdictions, which may differ materially from the regulations applicable to our domestic operations. Such international expansion is expected to require a significant amount of start-up costs. Additionally, our management does not have significant experience in operating a business at the international level. As a result, we may be unsuccessful in carrying out our plans for international expansion, obtaining the necessary licensing, permits or market saturation, or in successfully navigating other challenges posed by operating an international business.
 
If we do not maintain existing and develop additional relationships with employers, our future growth may be impaired.
 
Currently, we have relationships with certain employers to provide their employees with an opportunity to enroll in classes and obtain degrees through us while maintaining their employment. These relationships are an important part of our strategy because they provide us with a steady source of potential working adult students for particular programs and increase our reputation among employers. If we are unable to develop new relationships or maintain our existing relationships, this source of potential students may be impaired and enrollments and revenue may decrease, any of which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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If students fail to pay their outstanding balances, our business may be harmed.
 
From time to time, students may carry balances on portions of their education expense not covered by financial aid programs. These balances are unsecured and not guaranteed. Furthermore, disruptive economic events could adversely affect the ability or willingness of our former students to repay student loans, which may increase our student loan cohort default rate and require the devotion of increased time, attention and resources to manage these defaults. As a result, losses related to unpaid student balances in excess of the amounts we have reserved for bad debts, or the failure of students to repay their debt obligations, could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
Government regulations relating to the Internet could increase our cost of doing business and affect our ability to grow.
 
The increasing popularity and use of the Internet and other online services has led and may lead to the adoption of new laws and regulatory practices in the United States or foreign countries 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. As the proportion of our students who take online courses increases, new laws, regulations or interpretations related to doing business over the Internet could increase our costs of compliance or doing business and materially affect our ability to offer online courses, which would have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
Our financial performance depends, in part, on our ability to keep pace with changing market needs.
 
Increasingly, prospective employers of NAU students require their new employees to possess appropriate technological skills and interpersonal skills, such as communication, critical thinking and teamwork skills. These skills evolve rapidly in a changing economic and technological environment. Accordingly, it is important for our programs to evolve in response to those economic and technological changes. The expansion of existing programs and the development of new programs may not be accepted by current or prospective students or the employers of our graduates. Even if NAU is able to develop acceptable new programs, we may not be able to begin offering those new programs as quickly as required by prospective employers or as quickly as our competitors offer similar programs. In addition, we may be unable to obtain specialized accreditations or licensures that may make certain programs desirable to students. To offer a new academic program, NAU may be required to obtain appropriate federal, state and accrediting agency approvals that may be conditioned or delayed in a manner that could significantly affect our growth plans. In addition, to be eligible for Title IV programs, a new academic program may need to be approved by the Department of Education, the HLC and state educational agencies. If we are unable to adequately respond to changes in market requirements due to regulatory or financial constraints, unusually rapid technological changes or other factors, our ability to attract and retain students could be impaired, the rates at which our graduates obtain jobs involving their fields of study could suffer and our reputation among students, prospective students and employers may be impaired, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
Establishing new academic programs or modifying existing programs requires us to invest in management and business development, incur marketing expenses and reallocate other resources. We may have limited experience with any courses in new academic areas and may need to modify our systems, strategy and delivery platform or enter into arrangements with other educational institutions to provide such programs effectively and profitably. If we are unable to offer new courses and programs in a cost-effective manner, or are otherwise unable to effectively manage the operations of newly established academic programs, it could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 

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Capacity constraints of our computer networks and changes to the acceptance and regulation of online programs could have a material effect on student retention and growth.
 
If we are successful in increasing student enrollments, additional resources in the forms of human, intellectual and financial capital, as well as information technology resources, will be necessary. We have invested and continue to invest significant resources in information technology when such technology systems and tools have become impaired or obsolete. In an attempt to utilize recent technology, we could install new information technology systems without accurately assessing its costs or benefits or experience delayed or ineffective implementation of new information technology systems. Similarly, we could fail to respond in a timely or sufficiently competitive way to future technological developments in our industry. As a result, this growth may place a significant strain on our operational resources, including our computer networks and information technology infrastructure, thereby restricting our ability to enroll and retain students and grow our online programs.
 
System disruptions and security threats to our computer networks could have a material effect on our ability to attract and retain students.
 
The performance and reliability of our computer network infrastructure is critical to our reputation and ability to attract and retain students. Any computer system error or failure, or a sudden and significant increase in traffic on our computer networks, including those that host our online programs, may cause network outages and disrupt our online and on-ground operations that may damage our reputation.
 
Additionally, we face a number of threats to our computer systems, including unauthorized access, computer hackers, computer viruses and other security problems and system disruptions. We have devoted and will continue to devote significant resources to the security of our computer systems, but they are still vulnerable to security threats. A user or hacker who circumvents security measures could misappropriate proprietary information or cause interruptions or malfunctions in operations. As a result, we expend significant resources to protect against the threat of these system disruptions and security breaches and may have to spend more to alleviate problems caused by these disruptions and breaches, which could have a material effect on our reputation, ability to retain and store data and our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
A failure of our information systems to store, process and report relevant data may reduce management’s effectiveness, interfere with regulatory compliance and increase operating expenses.
 
We are heavily dependent on the integrity of our data management systems. If these systems do not effectively collect, store, process and report relevant data for the operation of our business, whether due to equipment malfunction or constraints, software deficiencies or human error, our ability to plan, forecast and execute our business plan and comply with applicable laws and regulations, including the Higher Education Act, will be impaired. Any such impairment of our information systems could materially affect our reputation and our ability to provide student services or accurately budget or forecast operating activity, thereby adversely affecting our financial condition and results of operations.
 
The personal information that we collect may be vulnerable to breach, theft or loss, and could subject us to liability or 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 and reputation. We collect, use and retain large amounts of personal information regarding our students and their families, including social security numbers, tax return information, personal and family financial data and credit card numbers. We also collect and maintain personal information of our employees in the ordinary course of business. Some of this personal information is held and managed by certain of our vendors. Although we use security and business controls to limit access and use of personal information, a third party may be able to circumvent those security and business controls, which could result in a breach of student or employee privacy. In addition, errors in the storage, use or transmission of personal information could result in a breach of student or employee privacy. Possession and use of personal information in our operations also subjects us to legislative and regulatory burdens that could require us to implement certain policies and procedures, such as the procedures we adopted to comply with the Red Flags Rule that was promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires the establishment of guidelines and policies regarding identity theft related to student credit accounts, and could require us to make certain notifications of data breaches and restrict our use of personal information. A violation of any laws or regulations relating to the collection or use of personal information could result in the imposition of fines against us. 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. While we believe we have taken appropriate precautions and safety measures, there can be no assurances that a breach, loss or theft of any such personal information will not occur. Any breach, theft or loss of such personal information could have a material effect on our reputation, could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and could result in liability under state and federal privacy statutes and legal actions by state attorneys general and private litigants.
 
 
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We may incur liability for the unauthorized duplication or distribution of class materials posted online for class discussions.
 
In some instances, our faculty members or students may distribute to students in class or 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 distributed in class or posted online for class discussions. As a for-profit organization, we may be subject to a greater risk of liability for the unauthorized duplication of materials under the Copyright Act than a non-profit institution of higher education. 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 financial resources and management personnel, regardless of whether the claims have merit. Our general liability insurance may not cover potential claims of this type adequately or at all, and we may be required to alter the content of our courses or pay monetary damages, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
We rely on exclusive proprietary rights and intellectual property that may not be adequately protected under current laws.
 
Our success depends, in part, on our ability to protect our proprietary rights and intellectual property. We rely on a combination of copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, domain names and contractual agreements to protect our proprietary rights. We rely on trademark protection in both the United States and certain foreign jurisdictions to protect our rights to various marks, as well as distinctive logos and other marks associated with them. We also rely on agreements under which we obtain intellectual property or license rights to own or use content developed by faculty members, content experts and other third-parties. We cannot assure that these measures are adequate, that we have secured, or will be able to secure, appropriate protections for all of our proprietary rights in the United States or any foreign jurisdictions, or that third parties will not terminate license rights or infringe upon or otherwise violate our proprietary rights. Despite our efforts to protect these rights, unauthorized third parties may attempt to infringe our trademarks, use, duplicate or copy the proprietary aspects of our student recruitment and educational delivery methods, curricula, online resource material and other content. Our management’s attention may be diverted by these attempts and we have in the past, and may in the future, need to use funds in litigation to protect our proprietary rights against any infringement or violation, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
We may be involved in disputes from time to time relating to our intellectual property and the intellectual property of third parties.
 
We have in the past, and may in the future, become parties to disputes from time to time over rights and obligations concerning intellectual property, and we may not always prevail in these disputes. Third parties may allege that we have not obtained sufficient rights in the content of a course or other intellectual property. Third parties may also raise claims against us alleging infringement or violation of the intellectual property of that third party. Some third party intellectual property rights may be extremely broad, and it may not be possible for us to conduct our operations in such a way as to avoid violating those intellectual property rights. Any such intellectual property claim could subject us to costly litigation and impose a significant strain on our financial resources and management personnel regardless of whether such claim has merit. Our general liability and cyber liability insurance, if any, may not cover potential claims of this type adequately or at all, and we may be required to alter the content of our courses or pay monetary damages or license fees to third parties, which could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
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We may not be able to retain key personnel or hire and retain the personnel we need to sustain and grow our business.
 
Our success depends largely on the skills, efforts and motivations of our executive officers, who have significant experience with our business and within the education industry. Due to the nature of the education industry, we face significant competition in attracting and retaining personnel who possess the skills necessary to sustain and grow our business. The loss of the services of any of our key personnel, or failure to attract and retain other qualified and experienced faculty members and staff members on acceptable terms, could impair our ability to sustain and grow our business.
 
Our business may be affected by changing economic conditions.
 
The United States economy and the economies of other key industrialized countries currently have recessionary characteristics, including reduced economic activity, increased unemployment and substantial uncertainty about the financial markets. In addition, homeowners in the United States have experienced an unprecedented reduction in wealth due to the decline in residential real estate values across much of the country. The reduction in wealth, unavailability of credit and unwillingness of employers to sponsor non-traditional educational opportunities for their employees could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war, natural disasters or breaches of security could have an adverse effect on our operations.
 
Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters or breaches of security at our educational sites could disrupt our operations. Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war, natural disasters or breaches of security that directly impact our physical facilities, online offerings or ability to recruit and retain students and employees could adversely affect our ability to deliver our programs to our students and, thereby, adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war, natural disasters or breaches of security could adversely affect the economy and demographics of the affected region, which could cause significant declines in the number of our students in that region and could have a material effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.
 
None.
 
 
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Item 2. Properties.
 
We lease all of our educational sites and administrative facilities (including those that are pending regulatory approval) located in Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. Our corporate headquarters is located in Rapid City, South Dakota, as set forth under the heading “Educational and Administrative Sites” under Item 1. As of July 31, 2017, we leased 32 educational sites, distance learning service centers, and administrative facilities.
 
We evaluate current utilization of our facilities and projected enrollment growth to determine facility needs. We believe our existing facilities are adequate for current requirements and that additional space can be obtained on commercially reasonable terms to meet future requirements.
 
Our real estate business, Fairway Hills, rents apartment units and develops and sells condominium units in Rapid City, South Dakota, a further description of which is set forth under “Real Estate Operations” in Item 1.
 
Item 3. Legal Proceedings.
 
From time to time, we are a party to various lawsuits, claims and other legal proceedings that arise in the ordinary course of our business. We are not at this time a party, as plaintiff or defendant, to any legal proceedings that, individually or in the aggregate, would be expected to have a material effect on our business, financial condition or results of operation.
 
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
 
Not applicable.
 
PART II
 
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
 
Market Information
 
Our common stock is traded on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “NAUH”.
 
The following table sets forth the high and low sales price, and dividends declared and paid per share of our common stock by quarter for our two most recent fiscal years.
 
 
 
  Fiscal 2017
 
 
  Fiscal 2016
 
 
 
Cash Dividends Declared
 
 
High
 
 
Low
 
 
Cash Dividends Declared
 
 
High
 
 
Low
 
First Quarter
 $0.045 
 $2.30 
 $1.80 
 $0.045 
 $3.25 
 $2.56 
Second Quarter
 $0.045 
 $2.18 
 $1.78 
 $0.045 
 $3.06 
 $2.34 
Third Quarter
 $0.045 
 $2.67 
 $1.90 
 $0.045 
 $2.43 
 $1.47 
Fourth Quarter
 $0.045 
 $2.72 
 $2.29 
 $0.045 
 $2.19 
 $1.42 
 
 
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Stockholders
 
As of July 31, 2017, there were approximately 41 holders of record of our common stock, including The Depository Trust Company, which holds shares of our common stock on behalf of an indeterminate number of beneficial owners.
 
Dividends
 
During our fiscal years 2017 and 2016, our board of directors has declared cash dividends on our common stock. The payment of any dividends in the future, however, will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon our financial condition, results of operations, earnings, capital requirements, contractual restrictions, outstanding indebtedness and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors.
 
 
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Item 6. Selected Financial Data.
 
The following table shows our selected consolidated financial and operating data for each of the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. The selected consolidated statements of financial data for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 are derived from the Company’s audited consolidated financial statements included in this document and those documents filed in prior years, prepared in accordance with accounting standards generally accepted in the United States. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of our results for any future period.
 
This information should be read in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes.
 
 
 
  Year Ended May 31,
 
 
 
2017
 
 
2016
 
 
2015
 
 
2014
 
 
2013
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  (dollars in thousands, except per share data)
 
Income Statement
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total revenues
 $86,587 
 $96,113 
 $117,891 
 $127,753 
 $129,176 
Operating expenses:
    
    
    
    
    
Cost of educational services
  27,657 
  26,152 
  28,551 
  29,478 
  29,188 
Selling, general and administrative
  61,639 
  72,152 
  73,301 
  85,286 
  82,906 
Auxiliary expense
  3,477 
  4,667 
  5,629 
  6,236 
  6,780 
Cost of condominium sales
  0 
  0 
  368 
  386 
  192 
Loss (gain) on disposition of property and equipment
  1,052 
  735 
  (1,710)
  114 
  100 
Total operating expenses
  93,825 
  103,706 
  106,139 
  121,500 
  119,166 
Operating (loss) income
  (7,238)
  (7,593)
  11,752 
  6,253 
  10,010 
Other expense
  (539)
  (605)
  (565)
  (479)
  (826)
(Loss) income before income taxes
  (7,777)
  (8,198)
  11,187 
  5,774 
  9,184 
Income tax benefit (expense)
  1,550 
  2,894 
  (4,433)
  (2,306)
  (3,698)
Net (loss) income
  (6,227)
  (5,304)
  6,754 
  3,468 
  5,486 
Net loss (income) attributable to non-controlling interest
  (48)
  (44)
  (38)
  17 
  (40)
Net (loss) income attributable to National American University Holdings, Inc. and subsidiaries
 $(6,275)
 $(5,348)
 $6,716 
 $3,485 
 $5,446 
 
    
    
    
    
    
(Loss) income from operations per Common Share
    
    
    
    
    
Basic
  (0.26)
  (0.22)
  0.27 
  0.14 
  0.21 
Diluted
  (0.26)
  (0.22)
  0.27 
  0.14 
  0.21 
Balance Sheet
    
    
    
    
    
Total assets
 $57,592 
 $68,526 
 $86,544 
 $88,457 
 $88,082 
Long-term obligations
 $15,441 
 $16,253 
 $21,183 
 $22,696 
 $22,593 
Cash Dividends declared per Common Share
 $0.18 
 $0.18 
 $0.18 
 $0.18 
 $0.16 
Weighted Average Shares
    
    
    
    
    
Basic EPS Common
  24,154,541 
  24,651,521 
  25,160,729 
  25,093,096 
  25,556,391 
Diluted EPS Common
  24,154,541 
  24,651,521 
  25,165,732 
  25,094,361 
  25,561,468 
Other Data (Unaudited)
    
    
    
    
    
(Loss) Income from Real Estate Operations Before Taxes
 $20 
 $(22)
 $1,714 
 $(134)
 $(522)
EBITDA 1
 $(1,943)
 $(1,819)
 $18,057 
 $12,758 
 $15,767 
 
 
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1 
Consists of income attributable to the Company plus income (loss) from non-controlling interest, minus interest income, plus interest expense, plus income taxes, plus depreciation and amortization. We use EBITDA as a measure of operating performance. However, EBITDA is not a recognized measurement under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, and when analyzing our operating performance, investors should use EBITDA in addition to, and not as an alternative for, income as determined in accordance with GAAP. Because not all companies use identical calculations, our presentation of EBITDA may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies and is therefore limited as a comparative measure. Furthermore, as an analytical tool, EBITDA has additional limitations, including that (a) it is not intended to be a measure of free cash flow, as it does not consider certain cash requirements such as tax payments; (b) it does not reflect changes in, or cash requirements for, our working capital needs; and (c) although depreciation and amortization are non-cash charges, the assets being depreciated and amortized often will have to be replaced in the future, and EBITDA does not reflect any cash requirements for such replacements, or future requirements for capital expenditures or contractual commitments. To compensate for these limitations, we evaluate our profitability by considering the economic effect of the excluded expense items independently as well as in connection with our analysis of cash flows from operations and through the use of other financial measures.
  
We believe EBITDA is useful to an investor in evaluating our operating performance because it is widely used to measure a company’s operating performance without regard to certain non-cash expenses (such as depreciation and amortization) and expenses that are not reflective of our core operating results over time. We believe EBITDA presents a meaningful measure of corporate performance exclusive of our capital structure, the method by which assets were acquired and non-cash charges, and provides us with additional useful information to measure our performance on a consistent basis, particularly with respect to changes in performance from period to period.

 The following table provides a reconciliation of net income attributable to the Company to EBITDA:
 
 
 
  Year Ended May 31,
 
 
 
2017
 
 
2016
 
 
2015
 
 
2014
 
 
2013
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net loss attributable to the Company
 $(6,275)
 $(5,348)
 $6,716 
 $3,485 
 $5,446 
Loss (income) attributable to non-controlling interest
  48 
  44 
  38 
  (17)
  40 
Interest income
  (102)
  (87)
  (148)
  (142)
  (111)
Interest expense
  850 
  870 
  891 
  770 
  1,044 
Income taxes
  (1,550)
  (2,894)
  4,433 
  2,306 
  3,698 
Depreciation and amortization
  5,086 
  5,596 
  6,127 
  6,356 
  5,650 
EBITDA
 $(1,943)
 $(1,819)
 $18,057 
 $12,758 
 $15,767 
 
 
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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
 
You should read the following discussion together with the financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this annual report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that are based on management’s current expectations, estimates and projections about our business and operations, and involves risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from those currently anticipated and expressed in such forward-looking statements as a result of a number of factors, including those we discuss under “Risk Factors,” “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” and elsewhere in this annual report.
 
Background
 
National American University, or NAU, is a regionally accredited, for-profit, multi-campus institution of higher learning offering diploma, associates, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs in business-related disciplines, such as accounting, applied management, business administration and information technology; legal-related disciplines, such as paralegal, criminal justice; and in healthcare-related disciplines, such as nursing, medical assisting, surgical technology and healthcare management; and higher education. Courses are offered through physical educational sites as well as online via the internet. As of May 31, 2017, our operations had 32 locations, including educational sites located in Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas, and distance learning operations and central administration offices in Rapid City, South Dakota.
 
On March 1, 2017 NAU consolidated its operations of the Minnetonka, Allen Service Center and Austin South locations. The university intends to use the facilities at Minnetonka to support its online and other NAU operations; therefore, no impairment of related assets exists. We impaired the leasehold improvements and accelerated the future lease payments of the Allen Service Center after the location was closed. In addition, we impaired the leasehold improvements of the Austin South location while potential uses of that facility are being evaluated. During the winter term preceding the consolidation, nearly 100% of the students associated with these three campuses participated in classes exclusively through online delivery. The ongoing impact on our future financial results is positive as students at these locations remained enrolled online, and fixed costs for these locations were eliminated.
 
We continue to assist students impacted by schools that have closed or have announced that they are discontinuing enrollments.  Over the past year, NAU has enrolled students from other institutions where students have been unable to complete their education.  We have worked closely with these institutions and new enrollees to highlight our academic programs and the commitment we have to our students’ success.  We have entered into agreements with these institutions to facilitate degree completion for their students. These institutions vary in size, programmatic offerings and geographic locations. These agreements are unique by institution and include teach-out and transfer agreements. In summary, these agreements stipulate how students will be admitted to NAU’s academic programs if they choose, how their credits will transfer, what services will be available to these students, and at what location(s) the degree programs will be offered.
 
In June 2017, the university launched the College of Military Studies (CMS) to focus and provide informed quality education and a premier customer service platform response to the needs and demands of servicemen and women, their dependents, and veterans. The CMS is also focusing on safeguarding veterans’ benefits and ensuring the military student population is well-served. We are strengthening relationships with key organizations.
 
In addition, we have made progress in executing our plans to enroll Canadians in NAU courses and programs. We continue to build the infrastructure that will allow us to scale our efforts while maintaining the compliance requirements of various Canadian regulatory authorities.
 
As of May 31, 2017, NAU had 1,313 students enrolled at its physical locations, 4,691 students for its online programs, and 703 students at its hybrid learning centers that attended physical campus locations and also took classes online. As of May 31, 2017, NAU supported the instruction of 2,503 additional students at affiliated institutions for whom NAU provides online course hosting and technical assistance. NAU provides courseware development, technical support and online class hosting services to various colleges, technical schools and training institutions in the United States and Canada who do not have the capacity to develop and operate their own in-house online curriculum for their students. NAU does not share revenues with these institutions, but rather charges a fee for its services, enabling it to generate additional revenue by leveraging its current online program infrastructure.
 
The real estate operations consist of apartment facilities, condominiums and other real estate holdings in Rapid City, South Dakota. The real estate operations generated approximately 1.3% of our revenues for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2017. Arrowhead View Apartments, a newly constructed, 24-unit luxury apartment building, began leasing to tenants on June 1, 2017.
 
 
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Key Financial Results Metrics
 
Revenue. Revenue is derived mostly from NAU’s operations. For fiscal year ended May 31, 2017, approximately 93.1% of our revenue was generated from NAU’s academic revenue, which consists of tuition and fees. The remainder of our revenue comes from NAU’s auxiliary revenue from sources such as NAU’s online bookstore and the real estate operations rental income and condominium sales. Tuition revenue is reported net of adjustments for refunds and scholarships and is recognized on a daily basis over the length of the term. Upon withdrawal, students generally are refunded tuition based on the uncompleted portion of the term. Auxiliary revenue is recognized as items are sold and services are performed.
 
Factors affecting revenue include:
 
 
the number of students who are enrolled and who remain enrolled in courses throughout the term;
 
 
the number of credit hours per student;
 
 
the student’s degree and program mix;
 
 
changes in tuition rates;
 
 
the affiliates with which NAU is working as well as the number of students at the affiliates; and
 
 
the amount of scholarships for which students qualify.
 
We record unearned tuition for academic services to be provided in future periods. Similarly, we record a tuition receivable for the portion of the tuition that has not been paid. Tuition receivable at the end of any calendar quarter largely represents student tuition due for the prior academic quarter. Based upon past experience and judgment, we establish an allowance for doubtful accounts to recognize those receivables we anticipate will not be paid. Any uncollected account more than six months past due on students who have left NAU is charged against the allowance. Bad debt expense as a percentage of academic revenue for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017, 2016, and 2015 was 4.6%, 6.1% and 5.1%, respectively.
 
We define enrollments for a particular reporting period as the number of students registered in a course on the last day of the reporting period. Enrollments are a function of the number of continuing students registered and the number of new enrollments registered during the specified period. Enrollment numbers are offset by inactive students, graduations and withdrawals occurring during the period. Inactive students for a particular period are students who are not registered in a class and, therefore, are not generating net revenue for that period.
 
We believe the principal factors affecting NAU’s enrollments and net revenue are the number and breadth of the programs being offered; the effectiveness of our marketing, recruiting and retention efforts; the quality of our academic programs and student services; the convenience and flexibility of our online delivery platform; the availability and amount of federal and other funding sources for student financial assistance; and general economic and regulatory conditions.
 
The following chart is a summary of our student enrollment on May 31, 2017, and May 31, 2016, by degree type and by instructional delivery method.
 
 
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May 31, 2017 (Spring '17 Qtr)
 
 
May 31, 2016 (Spring '16 Qtr)
 
    
 
 
Number of Students
 
 
% of Total
 
 
Number of Students
 
 
% of Total
 
 
% Change for same quarter over prior year
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Continuing Ed
  170
  2.5%
  972 
  11.9%
  -82.5%
Doctoral
  98 
  1.5%
  87 
  1.1%
  12.6%
Graduate
  366 
  5.5%
  324 
 3.9%
  13.0%
Undergraduate and Diploma
  6,069 
  90.5%
  6,802 
  83.1%
  -10.8%
Total
  6,703
  100.0%
  8,185 
  100.0%
  -18.1%
 
    
    
    
    
    
On-Campus
  1,309
  19.5%
  2,400 
  29.3%
  -45.5%
Online
  4,691 
 70.0%
  4,868 
  59.5%
  -3.6%
Hybrid
  703 
  10.5%
  917 
  11.2%
  -23.3%
Total
  6,703
  100.0%
  8,185 
  100.0%
  -18.1%
 
We experienced an 18.1% decline in enrollment in spring term 2017 from spring term 2016. The undergraduate and diploma degree education programs had a 10.8% decline while the continuing education students who enroll in one-off courses had an 82.5% decline. The doctoral and master’s programs had 12.6%, and 13.0% increases, respectively. The on-campus, online and hybrid delivery methods saw a 45.5%, 3.6% and 23.3% decrease, respectively. We believe our investment to expand academic programming and our growth strategies detailed earlier in this document will be critical in growing all segments.
 
 
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We plan to continue expanding and developing our academic programming focusing on growth at our approximately three dozen existing locations and potentially making acquisitions of other schools or programs. This growth will be subject to applicable regulatory requirements and market conditions. With these efforts, we anticipate positive enrollment trends. Our ability to maintain or increase enrollment will depend on how economic factors are perceived by our target student market in relation to the advantages of pursuing higher education. If current market conditions continue, we believe that the extent to which we are able to increase enrollment will be correlated with the creation of new delivery mechanisms, the number of academic programs that are developed, the number of programs that are expanded to other locations, and, potentially, the number of locations and programs added through acquisitions. If market conditions decline or if we are unable to open new physical locations, develop or expand academic programming or make acquisitions, whether as a result of regulatory limitations or other factors, our enrollment rate will likely decline.
 
Expenses. Expenses consist of cost of educational services, selling, general and administrative, auxiliary expenses, the cost of condominium sales, and the loss on disposition of property and equipment. Cost of educational services expenses contains expenditures attributable to the educational activity of NAU. This expense category includes salaries and benefits of faculty and academic administrators, costs of educational supplies, faculty reference and support material and related academic costs, and facility costs. Selling, general and administrative expenses include the salaries of the learner services positions (and other expenses related to support of students), salaries and benefits of admissions staff, marketing expenditures, salaries of other support and leadership services (including finance, human resources, compliance and other corporate functions), as well as depreciation and amortization, bad debt expenses and other related costs associated with student support functions. Auxiliary expenses include expenses for the cost of goods sold, including costs associated with books. The cost of condominium sales is the expense related to condominiums that are sold during the reporting period. The gain or loss on disposition of property and equipment expense records the cost incurred or income received in the disposal of assets that are no longer used by us.
 
Factors affecting comparability
 
Set forth below are selected factors we believe have had, or which we expect to have, a significant effect on the comparability of our recent or future results of operations:
 
Introduction of new programs and specializations. We plan to develop additional degree, non-credit, and diploma programs over the next several years. When introducing new programs and specializations, we invest in curriculum development, support infrastructure and marketing research. Revenues associated with these new programs are dependent upon enrollments, which are lower during the periods of introduction. During this period of introduction and development, the rate of growth in revenues and operating income has been, and may be, adversely affected, in part, due to these factors. Historically, as the new programs and specializations mature, increases in enrollment are realized, cost-effective delivery of instructional and support services are achieved, economies of scale are recognized and more efficient marketing and promotional processes are gained.
 
Seasonality. Our operations are generally subject to seasonal trends. While we enroll students throughout the year, summer and winter quarter new enrollments and revenue are generally lower than enrollments and revenue in other quarters due to the traditional custom of summer breaks and the holiday break in December and January. In addition, we generally experience an increase in enrollments in the fall of each year when most students seek to begin their postsecondary education.
 
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
 
The discussion of our financial condition and results of operations are based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with GAAP. The preparation of these consolidated financial statements requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues, costs and expenses and related disclosures. Management evaluates its estimates and judgments, including those discussed below, on an ongoing basis. These estimates are based on historical experience and on various other assumptions that management believes to be reasonable under the circumstances. The results of our analysis form the basis for making assumptions about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions, and the impact of such differences may be material to the consolidated financial statements. We believe the following critical accounting policies involve more significant judgments and estimates than others used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements:
 
 
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Academic Revenue recognition. Academic revenue represents tuition revenue and the revenue generated through NAU’s teaching relationships with other non-related party institutions. Tuition revenue and affiliate revenue is recorded ratably over the length of respective courses. Academic revenue also includes certain fees and charges assessed at the start of each term. The portion of tuition and registration fee payments received but not earned is recorded as deferred income and reflected as a current liability on the consolidated balance sheets, as such amount represents revenue that the Company expects to earn within the next year. Academic revenue is reported net of adjustments for refunds and scholarships. If a student withdraws prior to the completion of the academic term, the respective portion of tuition and registration fees that the Company already received and is not entitled to are refunded back to the students and the Department of Education. Refunds and scholarships are recorded during the respective terms. For students that have withdrawn from all classes during an academic term, the University estimates the expected receivable balance that is due from such students and records a provision to reduce academic revenue for that amount calculated based on historical collection trends and adjusted for known current factors. The amount is then recognized as academic revenue at the time the receivable is collected (e.g. cash basis).
 
Allowance for doubtful accounts. We maintain an allowance for doubtful accounts for estimated losses resulting from the inability, failure or refusal of the students to make required payments. We determine the adequacy of the allowance for doubtful accounts based on an analysis of aging of the accounts receivable and with regard to historical bad debt experience. Accounts receivable balances are generally written off when deemed uncollectible at the time the account is returned by an outside collection agency. Bad debt expense is recorded as a selling, general and administrative expense. As of May 31, 2017, and 2016, the allowance for doubtful accounts was approximately $1.2 million and $0.7 million, respectively. During the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017, 2016, and 2015, bad debt expense was $3.7 million, $5.4 million, and $5.6 million, respectively. The bad debt expense was 4.6%, 6.1%, and 5.1% of academic revenue for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
 
Accounting for Income Taxes. The objectives of accounting for income taxes are to recognize the amount of taxes payable or refundable for the current year and deferred tax liabilities and assets for the future tax consequences of events that have been recognized in an entity’s financial statements or tax returns. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates in effect for the year in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in earnings in the period when the new rate is enacted. We recognize a valuation allowance if, based on the weight of available evidence, it is more likely than not that some portion, or all, of a deferred tax asset will not be realized. During the quarter ended February 28, 2017, the Company determined that it is more likely than not that it will not realize its deferred tax asset. As such, a valuation allowance totaling $1,035 was recorded at February 28, 2017 which was included in deferred income taxes liability in the accompanying condensed consolidated balance sheet. A primary factor in the assessment of this non-cash charge is that the Company is in a cumulative loss position over the three-year period ended February 28, 2017. The Company’s effective tax rate was 19.9% for the twelve months ended May 31, 2017 as compared to 35.3% for the corresponding period in 2016. The effective rate varies from the statutory rate primarily due to the deferred tax asset valuation allowance. In addition, there is a fluctuation in state income taxes as a result of the Company’s net loss position, as well as nondeductible meals.
 
We evaluate and account for uncertain tax positions using a two-step approach. Recognition (step one) occurs when we conclude that a tax position, based solely on its technical merits, is more-likely-than-not to be sustained upon examination. Measurement (step two) determines the amount of benefit that is greater than 50% likely to be realized upon ultimate settlement with a taxing authority that has full knowledge of all relevant information. De-recognition of a tax position that was previously recognized would occur when we subsequently determine that a tax position no longer meets the more-likely-than-not threshold of being sustained.
 
 
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Share-Based Compensation. We measure and recognize compensation expense for all share-based awards issued to employees and directors based on estimated fair values of the share awards on the date of grant. We record compensation expense for all share-based awards over the vesting period. Annually, we make predictive assumptions regarding future stock price volatility, employee exercise behavior, dividend yield, and the forfeiture rate. For more information on these assumptions, please refer to Note 10 to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 of this report.
 
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets. Long-lived assets are reviewed for impairment when circumstances indicate the carrying value of an asset may not be recoverable. For assets that are to be held and used, an impairment loss is recognized when the estimated undiscounted cash flows associated with the asset or group of assets is less than their carrying value. If impairment exists, an adjustment is made to write the asset down to its fair value, and a loss is recorded for the difference between the carrying value and fair value. Fair values are determined based on quoted market values, discounted cash flows, or internal and external appraisals, as applicable. Assets to be held for sale are carried at the lower of carrying value or fair value, less cost to sell.
 
Regulation and Oversight
 
We are subject to extensive regulation by state education agencies, accrediting commissions and federal government agencies, particularly by the Department of Education under the Higher Education Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder by the Department of Education. The regulations, standards and policies of these agencies cover substantially all of our operations. For a more complete description of this regulation and oversight, see “Item I – Business – Regulatory Matters.”
 
Any regulations that reduce or eliminate our students’ access to Title IV program funds, that require us to change or eliminate programs or that increase our costs of compliance could have an adverse effect on our business.
 
 
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Results of Operations — For the Year Ended May 31, 2017 Compared to the Year Ended May 31, 2016
 
National American University Holdings, Inc.
 
The following table sets forth statements of operations data as a percentage of total revenue for each of the periods indicated:
 
 
 
Year-Ended
May 31, 2017
in percentages
 
 
Year-Ended
May 31, 2016
in percentages
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total revenue
  100.0%
  100.0%
Operating expenses:
    
    
Cost of educational services
  31.9 
  27.2 
Selling, general and administrative
  71.2 
  75.1 
Auxiliary expense
  4.0 
  4.8 
Loss on disposition of property
  1.2 
  0.8 
Total operating expenses
  108.3 
  107.9 
Operating loss
  (8.3)
  (7.9)
Interest income
  0.1 
  0.1 
Interest expense
  (1.0)
  (0.9)
Other income - net
  0.2 
  0.2 
Loss before income taxes
  (9.0)
  (8.5)
Income tax benefit
  1.8 
  3.0 
Net income attributable to non-controlling interest
  (0.1)
  (0.0)
Net loss attributable to the Company
  -7.3%
  -5.5%
 
For the year ended May 31, 2017, we generated $86.6 million in revenue, a decrease of 9.9% compared to the same period in 2016. This decrease was attributable to a decline in enrollment that was partially offset by a new tuition plan effective March 1, 2017, fees billed to affiliated institutions for our courseware development, technical support and online class hosting services, and programmatic expansion. Our revenue for the year ended May 31, 2017 consisted of $85.4 million from our NAU operations and $1.2 million from our other operations. Total operating expenses were $93.8 million or 108.3% of total revenue for the year ended May 31, 2017, a decrease of 9.5% compared to the same period in 2016. Loss before income taxes was $7.8 million or 9.0% of total revenue for the year ended May 31, 2017, a decrease of $0.4 million compared to the same period in 2016. Net loss attributable to the Company was $6.3 million or 7.3% of total revenue for the year ended May 31, 2017, an increase of $0.9 million compared to the same period in 2016. The additional details regarding these variances are described in greater detail below.
 
 
 
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NAU
 
The following table sets forth statements of operations data as a percentage of total revenue for each of the periods indicated:
 
 
 
Year-Ended
May 31, 2017
in percentages
 
 
Year-Ended
May 31, 2016
in percentages
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total revenue
  100.0%
  100.0%
Operating expenses:
    
    
Cost of educational services
  32.4 
  27.5 
Selling, general and administrative
  70.4 
  74.5 
Auxiliary expense
  4.1 
  4.9 
Loss on disposition of property
  1.3 
  0.9 
Total operating expenses
  108.2 
  107.8 
Operating loss
  (8.2)
  (7.8)
Interest income
  0.1 
  0.1 
Interest expense
  (1.0)
  (0.9)
Other income - net