Letter to Stockholders

American Public University System, which encompasses American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), is a regionally accredited provider of online education with a longstanding reputation for academic quality, affordability and innovation. Our newest institution, Hondros College of Nursing, is a respected, nationally accredited school of nursing with four Ohio campuses.

Through these institutions, we are fulfilling our mission—to improve lives by empowering students to reach their full potential, solve challenging problems, and make a contribution to their communities and to society. By providing an exceptional learning experience that is engaging and affordable, we serve the educational needs of working adults, including military, public service and nursing professionals.

Today, given increased competition for qualified students from both traditional and online universities, we face the challenge of attracting more college-ready students to APUS programs and improving the quality mix of our students. In 2015, we added an assessment to the enrollment process at APUS to help determine the college readiness of applicants. This new approach to admissions, combined with the impact of increased competition, changes in the administration of the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance Program and other factors, contributed to a decline in net course registrations in 2015. For the year ended December 31, 2015, net course registrations declined 7% at APUS compared to the same period in 2014.

Historically, relationship marketing and partnerships have played a key role in helping APUS attract qualified students with strong academic intent. Today, in addition to refining enrollment processes at APUS, we are taking a more targeted approach to outreach and optimizing our marketing processes to help attract more college-ready students. Whether they are considering an online or traditional university, prospective students are looking for an engaging academic environment, a rich curriculum, a strong faculty and a collaborative, supportive community of learners. Today at APUS, we are building a strong and sustainable future by creating an engaging, collaborative, and innovative online learning environment designed to attract—and retain—qualified students.

A Strong Foundation

APUS is a vibrant academic community with a longstanding commitment to teaching excellence and quality academic programs. Ranked among the top online undergraduate degree programs by U.S. News and World Report for four consecutive years, APUS was the first online for-profit university and the first 100% online university to receive the prestigious Ralph E. Gomory Award for best practices from the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and has received an unprecedented four Effective Practices awards from OLC. AMU is the leading educational institution serving the U.S. military. In 2015, Military Times magazine ranked AMU the number one school serving active duty military and the number nine school serving veterans.

During 2015, the distinguished faculty of APUS published more than 500 books and papers, earned more than 200 awards for professional practice, research and community service, and presented at more than 1,200 conferences, workshops and panels. They are leaders and practitioners in their fields, and dedicated to the success of their students.

We have never wavered from our commitment to supporting our students in their efforts to reach their goals. I am proud to report that in 2015, APUS conferred degrees on more than 10,800 APU and AMU graduates—our largest graduating class ever. Today, there are more than 60,000 AMU and APU alumni worldwide. More than 45% of our alumni return for a second degree. We believe that this speaks to the quality, affordability and uniqueness of our programs. Many of our degrees are highly specialized offerings in fields such as Transportation and Logistics, Space Studies and Homeland Security. Affordability and value remain the cornerstone of our approach. Our total costs of combined tuition, books, and required fees are approximately 19% less for undergraduate and 38% less for graduate students than the average published in-state total costs at public four-year institutions.1

A Strategy for the Future

We believe APEI is at the forefront of higher education, investing in education technologies and exploring new ways to excite students by providing them with interactive content, such as simulations, gamification and rich media. We are using innovative technologies to support collaboration, engagement and student success in ways that differentiate us. For example, the new APUS Native app, a proprietary application developed by APUS and introduced in 2015, allows students to interact with their classmates and with faculty, to receive updates and notifications, to review class material and participate in closed academic chats on their mobile devices. To date, the app has been installed on more than 44,000 devices. In January 2016, usage averaged 1.2 million page views per week.

Technology is a driving force behind the changing educational landscape and we are finding new ways to promote engagement and student success through innovative technologies. Launched at APUS in 2015, ClearPath is a learning relationship management system developed by Fidelis Education, a technology company in which we have a minority investment. It enables student-faculty interaction, and allows students to collaborate with their teachers and to bring in outside mentors for academic support. At APUS, we are using CIVITAS, a predictive analytics tool, to identify students who may be falling behind, so faculty can reach out to offer academic support and help them  achieve success.

We are already seeing the early results of our efforts to improve student success, and to identify and assist at-risk students. In the fourth quarter of 2015, undergraduate first course pass and completion rates improved 38% over the prior year period among students receiving federal financial aid. These initial improvements represent an important first step in stabilizing enrollments and increasing persistence rates.

In Closing

APUS is built on certain fundamental strengths—affordable tuition, a reputation for academic quality, and a supportive, engaging culture that fosters innovation and student success. At the end of the first quarter of 2016, with the optimization of our admission process well underway, we expect to further refine our marketing and enrollment practices to help ensure that our students are prepared for college and have strong academic intent. In addition, we continue to advance the interactivity and appeal of our learning environment to attract and engage students, and we utilize new technologies to foster greater collaboration, student engagement and student success.

We are excited about the future of APUS and Hondros College of Nursing (HCON), which we acquired in November of 2013. I’m pleased to report that in February 2016, we received final change of ownership and control authorization notice for HCON from the U.S. Department of Education. HCON further expanded access to its programs by offering courses on weekends at two additional campuses in 2015. These and other important developments put us in a better position to serve the needs of the nursing and healthcare communities of Ohio.

At APEI, we envision a world in which every qualified student has access to the best possible higher education and the brightest possible future. We appreciate the continued support of all our stakeholders as we continue to pursue that vision.

Dr. Wallace E. Boston
President and Chief Executive Officer
American Public Education, Inc.

1.  Public four-year, in-state undergraduate data is provided by the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2014. Graduate information is provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Digest of Educational Statistics 2012–13 data. Annual estimates are based on total institutional costs (published tuition, required fees, and books) assuming 30 undergraduate or 18 graduate-level semester credit hours.

Although 2015 was a challenging year, American Public Education, Inc. is building on our strong foundation to fulfill our mission by addressing the critical needs of a rapidly changing higher education landscape and preparing our institutions—and our graduates—for an exciting future.

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